One of the key parts of marketing for most small business HR consultants (and in fact many other types of business) is networking. It can be a really good way of building relationships with key people, and replicating the kind of conversations and opportunities offered by in-person networking at a local small business group in other ways is difficult.
But networking can be time consuming, especially if you do it right and don’t just turn up for the meeting itself but put in work before and after as well, and also expensive (all those breakfasts!), so knowing when to leave a networking group is as important as knowing which ones to join, especially as you get busier and need to spend your time wisely.
So how do you know when to leave a group you’ve been attending?
1. You’re not getting business from it
Be ruthless about this, and make sure you review on a regular basis how your networking groups are performing for you. If you are putting plenty of effort in yourself and doing everything right but a group isn’t bringing you any, or much, business, it’s probably time to walk away.
2. It’s taking too much time
This applies really to in-person networking rather than groups that are online, but think about how much time you are spending. You are preparing beforehand, travelling to the venue, there for a couple of hours, chatting afterwards, travelling home again, and by the time all that’s happened and you’re actually ready to start work, it can be a lot longer than the duration of the event itself. And if you’re perhaps doing that weekly, that’s a huge time investment.
If you’re getting loads of work from it, that might be perfectly fine, but if a group you’re attending takes up too much of your time, it may be right to walk away.
3. The dynamics are wrong
Networking groups are like any other group of people – they have a dynamic, informed by the people in them. Sometimes the dynamic is fantastic, you have a really good blend of people and magic happens. But sometimes that isn’t the case, or sometimes it changes over time. Pay attention to how a group feels, and if it changes over time, you may want to step away.
4. The structure doesn’t work for you
Most regular networking groups have some sort of structure to them, often a combination of informal mingling, a speaker, an opportunity to do a one minute pitch, and structured conversations. If a group you’re attending has a structure that simply doesn’t work for you, it might be a waste of time.
5. The wrong people
You’ll have a target market, in terms of potential clients and potential referrers. If the group you’re attending has very few of these people, and lots of people who might be completely lovely but are very unlikely to be useful to you, it may not be worth the time or money investment.
6. You just don’t enjoy it
If for whatever reason a particular networking group is one you really don’t enjoy attending, that may well be coming across and may be affecting your referrals. And even if you’re able to ‘fake it’ enough that it still works for you, and stepping out of your comfort zone is a key part of being self-employed, there is always a line to be drawn and you don’t want to be miserable and dread whatever you’ve got planned for the day. So if you really don’t enjoy it and it’s getting you down, ditch it.
As with any marketing activity, it’s crucial to keep your networking under review in terms of how much time, money, and effort you are spending, and how much business you are getting for that, to make sure all your investment in marketing is as effective as it possibly can be. Networking in the wrong places can be a huge drain for little return, so make sure you get it right!
If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR with bags of support, do get in touch.