NetTime: How Much Time Should You Spend Networking?

The secret to getting more business through networking is. . . spending more time doing it!   OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point.  So how much networking time (or NetTime) should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?

Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we finally have a definitive answer to those questions.  The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities.  On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.  

Clearly, those people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business.  As with many other aspects of life, you clearly reap what you sow.  It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward.  This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely realize from it.

The typical person in the survey who spent a little over six hours a week networking generated almost 47 percent of all their business through referrals and networking activities.  Of the 12,000 global participants in the survey, women spent less time networking (6.19 hours compared to 6.44 for men), yet generated a higher percentage of their business through the process (49.44 percent compared to 43.96 percent for men).

Why would women spend less time and get a higher percentage of their business from referrals than men?  Well, we discovered that men tended to be more transactional in their networking activities.  That is they were more likely than women to be focused on the “business first and the relationship second.”  On the other hand, women were more likely to be relational in their networking activities.  In other words, they were more likely than men to “focus on the relationship first and do the business second.”

An emphasis on relationships first was clearly and undeniably a key factor in determining whether people were going to identify  networking as having played a role in their success. When we looked at the responses from all the participants who said that networking had played a role in their success and then compared them to those people who focus on relationships first, we discovered that the majority of respondents who felt they’ve achieved success through networking also felt that it was better to build the relationship first and then focus on the business.  Consequently, regardless of gender, business professionals who focused on the relationship first and the business second tended to do better than those business people who focused on the business first.

In other words, relationships beat transactions when it came to networking.  The reason that women seem to have done better in the global study was that women tended to be more relational then men.

Those who skip the relationship building and attempt to establish an “all business” interaction often discover that trust and goodwill are more than just window dressing – they are part of the social capital that energizes a mutually rewarding business relationship.  People who bypass relationship building are more likely to feel that networking has not contributed to their success, and they are probably right – because they’re doing it wrong or at least not doing it enough.

You may be reading this article and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6 ½ hours a week networking.  Well, that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful business person wants to be average)!   If on the other hand, you’d like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause.  The optimum amount of NetTime is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.

How much NetTime do you spend each week?  More?  Less? and what percentage of business (total) do you get from your networking efforts?  Comment below.

Networking ROI

I recently co-authored an article about the return on investment (ROI) of membership in BNI (the organization I founded back in 1985).  My readers here may find some of the results interesting:

The average amount of business gained from referrals in the last 12 months was $37,055.  When asked about further orders they had received as the multiplier effect of participation, members were able to think of, on average, an additional $17,668 per year of membership.

Combining closed business in the last 12 months with the average value of 2nd and 3rd generation referrals in a year showed the true value of a seat as $54,720 per year.  On average, members who were involved in the group for 7 years generated $383,038 since they joined, thereby underpinning the lifetime value of participation.

An associate of mine is conducting an independent study regarding ROI for any networking organization.   He will share some of the results with me and I will publish them here on my blog.  Please take a few moments to take the short survey (it will only take 3 or 4 minutes).

*** Take the SURVEY HERE ***

After you take the survey, post a message here with any questions that YOU would like to see in a future survey that I’m doing or recommending (like this one).

Want to Achieve Networking Success with the Opposite Sex?–Advice for Women & Men

Last week I posted a summary of the conclusions my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I came to after surveying over 12,000 people and conducting months of research.  I promised that this week I would post advice for both women and men in achieving networking success with the opposite sex so below I’ve outlined some key tips Frank De Raffele, Hazel Walker, and I put together.

We Say . . .

We’re all trying to get to the same place.  It will be much more profitable for all of us if we can help each other along the way.  Here are a few things to guide your success in networking with the complementary gender:

For the Ladies

  • Don’t get stuck in the credibility phase of the VCP Process®.  Ask for what you want.
  • When asking for help, communicate clearly exactly what it is that you want.
  • Make time for networking.
  • When speaking to men, try to impress them and share your accomplishments.
  • When spoken to inappropriately, speak up about it immediately.
  • Dress for business at business events.
  • Put systems in place to track your business.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Diversify your networks.
  • Remember that networking is ultimately about getting business, so ask for both business and referrals.
  • Convey an image to others that you are a serious businessperson, in all that you do.
  • Get educated about referral systems.
  • Don’t lump all men into the same group.

For the Guys

  • Slow down and build the relationship.
  • Work through the VCP Process® in the proper order of its phases.  Don’t race through the credibility phase.
  • Make and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen and ask relational questions.
  • Don’t assume that women don’t take their business seriously.
  • Don’t hit on women at networking events.
  • Edit what you are about to say, using filters to sift out what is not business appropriate.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Stay informed about the best, most current, and cutting-edge networking practices.
  • Develop and use systems for your networking activities.
  • Make time for networking.
  • Speak to relate, not just to impress.
  • Remember that women are at networking events for business gain, just as you are.

The difference between the genders when it comes to networking is a great advantage, not a disadvantage.  By following the tips we have outlined above, you should be able to develop more productive relationships with members of both sexes.  Also, be sure to visit www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com if you would like to follow the latest developments on the subject of business networking and the genders.

Survey Says: Summarized Conclusions about Business Networking & Gender

What have my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I concluded after 12,000 individual surveys, almost 1,000 comments and stories, numerous interviews, months of research, and years of experience?  Below is a recap of the facts we uncovered.

Study Findings, Summarized

  • Men and women were closer together than we expected in most areas.
  • However, the perception of the difference is very dramatic.  Remember: The exception becomes the perception.
  • Women feel that networking has played a slightly larger role in their success than men.
  • Women use a much wider variety of techniques to learn their networking skills than men do.
  • Men are more likely to focus on business first than women are.  Women are a little more likely to focus on building the relationship first–then the business.
  • The time of day for networking was not a big issue for either gender.  This was a surprise to us.
  • Family obligations were more of a problem for women.
  • Women definitely did not feel as safe as men in attending evening events.
  • Men preferred either a structured or unstructured networking event.  Women felt okay with either.
  • Both men and women felt that other people were more uncomfortable networking than they felt about it themselves.
  • Men felt stronger about transactional aspects of networking.  Women felt stronger about relational aspects of networking.
  • Men spent a little more time networking.
  • Women received a higher percentage of their business from networking than men.
  • The more time either men or women spent in their networking efforts, the higher the percentage of business they generated.
  • The more often people used systems to track their business from networking, the more likely they were to feel that networking played a role in their success.

Men and women are not so different in the success they desire in business and networking.  However, the process, the mindset, and the way of making the results happen are very different.  The reason is that we have different ways of viewing the world.  Some of this comes from nature and some from nurture.  What it means is that if we want to be more effective, we must learn how to respect, appreciate, and embrace one another’s differences.  We must understand that we can work more effectively together as a team in business and in our networks.  We just need to learn to be adaptable, empathetic, sensitive, and understanding that THEY are not you.

You can and will beat the odds.  The exception doesn’t have to become the perception.  It can be you! 

Come back next week for some advice from the whole team of Business Networking and Sex co-authors–these tips will help you achieve your highest potential when it comes to networking and guide you into your brightest future in referral marketing.

My ‘Business Networking and Sex’ Epiphany

In this video, Hazel Walker, one of my Business Networking and Sex co-authors, asks me what I learned from the research we conducted for the book and, specifically, what my biggest epiphany was.

I explain the answer that really blew me away and caused me to come to a major realization when I was interviewing someone prior to writing the book.  I’m telling you, no matter how much you may learn about networking, there’s always more to learn!

People Hate to Network… Not!

I was recently contacted by a reporter from a major U.S. national newspaper who said:

“I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of some research that says that many people don’t like networking?  I see that concept cited all over the web, but I can’t find anyone who has actually conducted a survey or done some sort of study to back it up.”

I sent her the chart in this blog, which comes from the research I did for the book: Business Networking And Sex, (not what you think).   She was very surprised by these results.  She said that she had always heard that people didn’t like to network and so she assumed it was true. 

As you can see in the graph, over 57% of the respondents were comfortable or loved to network!  Only 37% or just somewhat comfortable networking and less than 6% were uncomfortable or did not like networking.  This is substantially different than the impression the news reporter had about the process.

I think there may be two reasons why she may have believed that most people don’t like to network. 

  1. The “proximity effect.”  People tend to take on some of the beliefs of people that they hang out with.  Newspaper writers ‘tend’ to be around other writers and editors.  They generally do not hang out with sales people and entrepreneurs.  However, it is the small business person that is out there selling and networking.  The writer is writing about people she doesn’t tend to be with all the time and may get a point of view about networking from other people – not entrepreneurs.
  2. The “I’m better at this than others effect.” One of the things we learned in doing the research for this book was that most people think “they” are better at networking than “other” people.  This tends to create a belief that other people may not like it because they surely are awkward and poor at it (more to come on a future blog about this topic).

The bottom line is that the majority of business people do like to network or are somewhat comfortable networking.  It is a powerful way to generate business and it sure is a whole lot more interesting that cold-calling!

How about you – do you hate to network, love to network, or something in between???

Business Networking & Sex: Survey Says . . . Time Spent Networking

In this short video, I share a portion of the results from the survey of 12,000 businesspeople on which my most recent book, Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think, is based.   The results I discuss here indicate that there is a very powerful, direct linear correlation between the time spent networking and business success.

You’ll also hear some colorful comments in the video relating to the book and my co-authors (e.g., “Frank, you’re a bad, bad boy . . .” ;-)).

After watching the video, please leave a comment explaining whether you feel the indication of the statistics is true or lacking based on your personal networking experience.

Business Networking and Sex: Survey Says . . . Transactional vs. Relational

In this short video, I share a portion of the results from the survey of 12,000 businesspeople on which my most recent book, Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think, is based.   The results I discuss here indicate that men and women act differently when it comes to the VCP Process®, transactions, and relationships.

Based on your experience, would you say these results jive with what you’ve found to be true in the networking world?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section–I’d love to hear them!

Systems and Referral Marketing

It’s International Networking Week and one of the many ways I’m celebrating is by posting this video blog on how to network better and smarter with systems.  In this short video , I talk to my good friend Bertrand McHenry, a Referral Institute Trainer and Franchisee, about how people who develop a system for referral marketing generate substantially more business through referrals.

Watch this video to find out how creating a system for referrals can help you predict the income you will receive from referrals up to 12 months in advance and be sure to check out the International Networking Week video–make 2012 the year you commit to developing a networking strategy and achieving real business growth through a structured referral marketing system!

Business Networking And Sex (not what you think)

Business Networking and Sex (not what you think) is officially released this week in bookstores.  This book was more fun to work on than any book I’ve ever written.  My co-authors: Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker were fantastic to work with.

You may be wondering what sex has to do with networking.  You may also be excited to learn how to use your sexual prowess to influence business deals.  Well, get your mind out of the gutter!  Sorry to burst your bubble, but this book is really more about gender than sex, but who’s going to want a book called Business Networking and Gender (do you hear the crickets chirping)?  Not many people walk around thinking about gender, but many people think many times a day about well, you know.

The book is based on the findings from a survey that we conducted.  Over a four-year period, more than 12,000 businesspeople from every populated continent of the world participated in a study focused around 25 simple questions.  Beyond irritating you, the answers may also make you excited and motivated to learn how to work with the opposite sex.

So, pick up a copy of the book – if you dare.  But be WARNED.  It might make you angry.  Oh, and there’s some statistics too.

If you would like a sample chapter or would like more information, go to www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com If you have an advance copy of the book – tell me what you like most about it.  What surprised you?  What annoyed you?

 

 

Double Dip Recession?

The third quarter survey of the BNI Business Index was not very promising for business around the world.  The survey included responses from over 1,200 business people representing every populated continent in the world.

The number of people who said that business was growing or growing substantially in the third quarter of 2011 dropped to 66.9% compared to 70.4% in the second quarter of 2011.  More notably, the number of people who said that business was declining or declining substantially almost doubled from 5.4% in the second quarter to 9.6% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
In addition, the number of people who said they would or possibly would be hiring in the next few months dropped from 53.9% in the second quarter to a low of 45.9% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 300 respondents left open ended comments on the survey.  There were at least three common themes throughout the open ended responses: problems related to government regulations, developing new services to offer, and increased networking efforts.

Government Regulation

Once again, government regulation came under fire in many of the open ended comments that business people shared in the survey.  There was a fair amount of frustration about “anti-business policies having a very negative effect” on the business environment.

One respondent said that his business was “down 80%” because of government “bungled schemes.”  Another response said, “Today’s business has been hurt from the government’s restrictions on business in this country.”

This kind of frustration was echoed by many respondents throughout the survey.

New Services

On a positive note, people who seemed to be doing better often discussed new services or target markets that they were developing.  One respondent stated, “We re-evaluated our strengths, costs, and profit.  We realigned our costs and added new services to our offering.”

Another person said they were “offering new service features and distinctly communicating our target market to our referral partners.  We’ve had to adjust to the market.  It’s not ‘business as usual’ anymore.”

One respondent stated, “I’ve had to change my business strategies due to the economy.  I have added more services at more price options that will appeal to a broader scope of people.”

Another person summed up this theme well by saying, “We have grown because we are embracing change.”

Networking

Networking and referral marketing strategies again came up as positive ways to deal with the economy.  One person stated, “Business is picking up due to my learning more and more about developing word of mouth and other referrals.”

One respondent combined the “new services” and “networking” themes by saying that he was doing well due to “a combination of new innovations on my products and increasing my networking relationships.”  He expressed that these things “contributed greatly to this year’s business.”

Other people made statements such as:

  • “Networking and sponsorship of corporate events is the key to growth at the moment.”
  • “My referral base is responsible for the growth of my business during the economic downturn.”
  • “We are working hard at building a strong network of positive people.”

Summary

One respondent in particular summed up the general consensus of many of the respondents very well when she said, “There is less confidence in the marketplace now than there was during this same time last year.”

Another survey respondent made what could be considered a somewhat prophetic statement—“The financial industry is out of control.  The protesters have the right idea!”

Hmmm . . . Wasn’t it Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution”?  It might be time for businesses to pull out some poster boards and markers.

To take the next BNI Business Index survey, click here.  I’d love to have your thoughts about how business is doing.

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