I am a networking junkie! But unlike people with other addictions, I am not looking for a 12-step program to cure me of my habit, because I like the "BUZZ" my business gets from my referral addiction.
I network, not just because I think it is fun; I network because it drives my business. And, just as I track other marketing expenditures, I track my networking expenses and results. I know how much business networking drives and which networking events are paying off.
How? I track it! Every time I meet someone, I add their contact information into an electronic data base. I prefer ACT, but Goldman, Outlook, or even a simple Excel spread sheet will work equally well. Periodically I purge contacts as well, people I met one time and there has been no further interaction.
For each contact, I record key contact information, relevant information on the contact, and most importantly, "Refer By". For every one of the active 957 contacts in my database, I know fairly how I met them. When prospects become projects I record the sale in a spreadsheet that looks like this:
Job # Customer Name Type of Project $ Amount Source 1 Source 2 Source 3
575 Joe's Butcher Shop Direct Mail $ xxx D. Boehme E. Dunnigan Rainmakers
576 CindyLu Designs Marketing Coaching $ xxx NOWIB
577 Interlude Travel Marketing Coaching $ xxx Nowib
601 Garrison Law Brochure $ xxx R. Brugger Rainmakers
621 Home Safe Homes Marketing Coaching $ xxx K. McCool E.Schneller Rainmakers
This spreadsheet tracks tracks projects, but more importantly helps me identify which referral sources and networking organizations are really making a difference in my business. On any given day I can calculate what percentage of my business, number of customers, or gross revenue is coming as a result of a particular networking activity.
For example: I was referred to Joe's Butcher Shop by Doug B. Ellen D, who I met at a Rainmaker event introduced me to Doug.
In contrast: I met both Cindy Schum and JoAnn Carr at the Network of Women in Business (NOWIB) meetings.
As you look at the table, do you see a common theme? I did! Over and over again, Rainmakers and NOWIB pop up as project sources. I know my memberships in these organizations pay off. At renal time, they are the first checks I write.
From where do you business referrals come? Which groups are paying off for you? Do you know? The first step to getting a handle on your networking is tracking your contacts!
One final note: Just attending the meetings will not deliver this type of results. You need to show up early, stay late, and get involved if you want to get noticed, and get referrals!