David's Note: I wrote this post, shared it with my friend Ilise, she posted it on her blog, and now I'm posting it on my blog. Ilise Benun runs Marketing Mentor (http://www.marketing-mentor.com/), a company that helps small businesses market and grow their business. Here's what Ilise wrote and then what I wrote!
David Makar from Referral Institute Ithaca was a guest on my recent Advanced Marketing Groupphone call. When asked how much networking people should be doing every week, he said 10 hours, which was very surprising to group members.
He went on to say, “This eliminates almost all the time I used to spend driving to prospects, meeting with cold prospects, writing proposals, replying to a lot of Q&A with prospects via email and phone, spending my billable time with the ‘wrong’ clients (who were not a good match for my services), and ‘free consulting’.”
Today, David shares how to transition to 10 hours of networking per week:
In our call we spoke about the number of hours per week that would be ideal for implementing a referral marketing plan. We mentioned the number of hours being 10 hours. That always seems like an overwhelming place to start. “Where am I going to find 10 hours each week? I’m too busy.”
Here’s a sample from my referral marketing plan, working to 40 hours of networking per month (10 hours per week):
BNI (Business Network Int’l) Meetings (7am – 9:00am) 8 hours
Networking @ Noon (Chamber) 1.5 hours
Pre or Post Networking @ Noon 1 to 1 1 hour
Small Business Council Meeting (Chamber) 1.5 hours
Ambassadors Council (Chamber) 1.5 hours
1 to 1 with Referral partners (4 primary, 2 hrs) 8 hours
1 to 1 with Referral partners (3 secondary, 1.5 hrs) 4.5 hours
BNI member 1 to 1’s (1.5 hours each) 6 hours
Business After Hours (Chamber) 3 hours (with drive time)Social media: facebook/Linked In (15 min. x 4 per wk) 5 hours (per month)
Of course this takes time to transition from a pure transactional business to a relational business. I’d say try to spend one less hour doing the transactional activities, and then one hour doing the relational activities. Perhaps plan a 10 week (or 10 month) schedule:
Week 1: 1 hour networking, 9 hours doing transactional work
Week 2: 2 hours networking, 8 hours transactional work
Week 3: 3 hours networking, 7 hours transactional work
Month 1: 1 hr/week networking, 9 hr/week doing transactional
Month 2: 2 hr/week networking, 8 hr/week doing transactional
Jumping in all at once isn’t likely to work – unless you are brand new in business, but even then – you may have to do some ‘prospecting’ work for the first 3 to 18 months as you build a referral network.
First Step: Join one organization (trade association for your target market, local chamber, BNI, or local service organization) and get involved by giving back to the organization and their members – start with just an hour a week.
In the Marketing Groups, I often invite experts as guest speakers. If you want to expand your horizons, the next Marketing Group starts the week of May 16th. Details here or fill out this form.