Networking – How to Work the Numbers

women-networkingSometimes I come across an article that’s so succinct, smart and useful I have to share it! This is one of those articles from our friends over at The Wake County Women Business Owners Network. I’m not one to get caught up in numbers when I’m networking – it’s just not how I do business. But these tips might just have me rethinking a few things. Read on!

Salespeople are often taught that sales is a numbers game. Master networkers have some demographic knowledge, too. Use these numbers to gauge your success at an open networking event.

  • Speak with six to ten people an hour. After a two hour open networking event check your pocket. You win if you have at least twelve, but not more than 20 business cards. If you haven’t met at least twelve people in two hours you were schmoozing with friends, not networking. If you collected more than 20 cards your conversations weren’t long enough for people to remember you when you follow through with them. Speak with each person you meet for six to ten minutes. Long enough to have a conversation.
  • Half of the people you speak with are prospects. It is unreasonable to think that you will sell your product to everyone you meet. Some people may want it, but are unable to afford it; some people may need it, but don’t want it. Know that about half of the people you speak with are prospective clients. If you have 12 cards, six of those people are waiting to hear from you. Follow through quickly.
  • Half of the prospects are in the immediate market for your product or service. If you met 12 people, and half of them, six, are prospects, then know that half of the prospects, or three of the people you met, are in the immediate market for your product or service. If your closing rate is 50% that means you’ll net one or two new clients from the two hours you spent meeting 12 new people, and following through with each of them.

Two new clients in two hours? That’s networking success!


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  • Dushyant

    Nice article! However its always been challenging for
    me to end the conversation in 6-10 minutes down the line. Any tips on
    that ?

    • Hey, Dushyant! In this case I believe it’s a Nike thing – you know; just do it. Anyone who is at a networking event to actually *network* isn’t going to be
      offended or put off that you aren’t standing around chit chatting with
      every friendly face. As the article says, there’s schmoozing and there’s
      networking. There’s a time and place for both. I’ve personally discovered it’s very easy to say, “I’m going to go circulate a bit. I’m sure we’ll cross path again tonight (or today) but if not, here’s my card. Let’s stay in touch.” That way, whether the connection was friendly or a possible lead, I’ve had the opportunity to share my information with someone new.

      I know it doesn’t sound like much but 10 minutes is good chunk of time. Enough, at least, to do your elevator pitch, listen to the other person’s, ask and answer questions, make a few comments about the event itself, circulate and repeat.

      • Dushyant

        Thanks Patricia for your valuable comment!
        I gotta try this for sure. Previously I used to find the conversations so interesting that I end up meeting 2-3 leads an hour. But I think I need to drop off with that interest and move on (while exchanging cards) and later carry forward the conversation one on one.

        • You are very welcome. I forget who it was but someone once told me to set my cell phone to vibrate after so many minutes to remind me it’s time to move. And if you really don’t have the guts, set your alarm to a ringtone and politely excuse yourself with, “I’m so sorry, this is a client. I’ve got to take this call. Let’s exchange cards – I’d really like to follow up with you on this discussion.” It just might make you look extra disciplined, too! (But then you can only use that method a few times in the evening, especially if it’s a small group. They’ll catch on fast!)

          • Dushyant

            Amazing! Thanks