Business Networking In The Digital Age

business networking

Business Networking – Is It Really Working For You?

business networkingBusiness networking was the subject of a great post I read on Linked in today. It was by a business consultant called Ewan Menzies I know slightly from – yes a business networking event – I attended back when I was a BDM. He also happens to share my surname and Scottish clan. He made some great points about the subject and I wanted to add my tuppence.

His article titled “Stop Networking and Find More Success” chimed with me as in it he acknowledges the value of business networking – as I do – but also stresses the disadvantages.

He makes the point that in the early stages of starting a business, networking can be very valuable. It introduces you to fellow entrepreneurs, valuable contacts and possibly customers and collaborators. It’s also a great way for entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs, to get out of the home office and meet people. It can after all be a lonely game.

All well and good but as he says, business networking can become expensive, time consuming and very low on returns. I must admit that since becoming self employed I’ve attended very few traditional style networking events. As an employee I attended quite a few and always had a love hate relationship with them.

In my reply to Ewan’s post I agreed with him but also suggested that in the technologically advanced world we live in there are better ways to grow a business than business networking.

Business Networking – The Real Cost

business networkingMy own business is entirely online. I’m actually part of a worldwide community of online entrepreneurs. As such I probably do more business networking than ever before but in a very different way. Instead of driving to and from events and spending (often fruitless) hours at them, I network online via webinars, hangouts, skype and social media groups. A couple of times we do come together for live events but those are not business networking events per se – the networking just happens.

This means that my networking is far broader – worldwide in fact – and more targeted. By contrast I well remember attending chamber of commerce speed networking events and BNI meetings at the crack of dawn. At those I’d often quickly realise that I was in the wrong crowd – at least from a potential new business point of view. At the end of the day, that’s really why we were all there.

Even back then I far preferred to just get the attendees list – especially if it included email addresses – and follow up later. Don’t get me wrong, there were times where a chance casual conversation would lead somewhere – just not often enough for it to have been worth while. Had I been paying the fees, travel money and my own salary I would probably have skipped most of them.

In fairness I do know people who get a lot out of it – but they put a hell of a lot into it.

In Ewan’s excellent article he ran some numbers showing the average cost of attending a couple of business networking events per week. Allowing for fees, travel costs, follow-ups and the odd coffee this equates to around 760 hours and £7700 per year.

Alternatives To Business Networking

business networkingI commented that if you learned the ropes and invested the same cash in online, pay per click advertising instead, your business would grow exponentially. You’d also save most of that time. I’m sure most employers footing the business networking bill would be interested in that and I’m positive most solo entrepreneurs would be – should be.

I guess I’m biased as I run an online business – but with good reason. I sell high value digital marketing training products and business systems. I use the same products myself and in 2 years of doing so the traditional business scenario – business networking included – just looks wasteful, inefficient and unviable to me.

I have customers from India, Australia, Canada, UK and USA. I network online with people from those countries too. The time zones can be a pain at times but as I don’t have traditional time constraints or working hours I can catch up on sleep whenever I need to.

As I said in my comment – it’s time more businesses woke up to the possibilities that now surround us.

On that note – get an eye opening free video series from the SFM online business community by clicking on the banner below.

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By Dave Menzies