The old saying that we "treasure what we measure" -- and vice versa -- turns out to be highly relevant in networking.
In a survey I conducted of 12,000 people, most of the respondents who credit networking for some of their success said they maintain a system for measuring the dollar value of their networking activity. Conversely, most of the respondents who said that networking played no role in their success had no system for tracking any monetary gains from their participation in networking groups.
The survey asked about using systems in multiple ways:
- Do you track the business you get from networking?
- Do you have a systematic approach to following up with people?
- Do you have a systematic approach to staying in contact with people?
- Do you have a system to track the money you make?
In each case, people who used systems generated more business. This clearly indicates a correlation between implementing systems and getting results. The more systematic you learn to make your networking, the more productive you can be.
In a world where the news media regularly reports the latest sports scores, stock market numbers and the weekend’s top-grossing films, wouldn’t you think business networkers would just naturally track how much they’re getting from their efforts? Yet in the survey, more respondents said they did not have a system than said they did. And more women than men said they didn’t have a tracking system.
While systems for following up, staying in touch and tracking results are key to networking success for both men and women, they’re especially vital for women. Because of family and other responsibilities, many women have fewer hours to spend networking and need the productivity benefits of a system.
What should you track with your networking system?
- The organizations you belong to and the results you are getting from them.
- The time you spend networking and working your network.
- The amount of money you’ve made from networking.
- The people who are sending you referrals and how much of your income they’re responsible for.
You also need systems for following up with the people you meet, staying in touch with your network members, rewarding your referral sources and helping your referral sources in return.
There are many ways business people reward those who send them referrals: A female consultant sends bouquets of flowers to men, an owner of a music store sends concert tickets, and a financial planner sends change purses and money clips.
Here is the key point: If you develop and use good systems, they will enable you to get better networking results in much less time and will free up more of your time for family and personal life. The upfront investment in developing and implementing your system will enable you to spend much less time going out to find new people for your network and more time working with contacts you’ve already established within your network.
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.