Infocusselling’s Blog

June 17, 2009

When to Dump a Networking Group

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 11:37 pm
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In one of my last articles, I asked, “Is it possible to network too much?” A related question is, “Should I stop networking in this group?” Depending on what is happening, the answer may be a resounding, “Yes!”

Sales today is about being vigilant in using limited time. Most salespeople spend less than 30% of their time in active selling and less than 50% of their total time in any aspect of selling. The rest of the week is filled with travel, marketing, company meetings, training, client problem resolution, and paperwork. All of these are part of sales so we can’t get rid of them. What we can get rid of is unproductive networking time.

Networking is a sales function inside another business—the networking group is its own business with income, expenses, and they hope profit. The group exists to make money by providing the service of connections. Think the chamber of commerce isn’t a business because it’s a not for profit? Ask their president how long they could survive if they took in less money than they spent and you’ll hear the answer: not very long! Most other networking groups are for-profit businesses whose ongoing success is based upon collecting dues money from members and meeting fees from visitors.

Is that bad? Not at all. In fact, it’s very good because it makes them deliver a product that you are willing to buy. If the group is working for you, you are (or should be) happy to pay your dues. If the group isn’t working for you, then you should take your business elsewhere and the group should understand that it failed to satisfy you.

How do you know if a group is working for you? First, make a list of every networking group you work and then add up over the last six months the total number of hours you spent on that group. Include meeting time, driving time, follow up phone and email time, appointment time, one on one time—everything that took time away from you doing anything else, and get a total for each group. Next, look at your sales during the same timeframe and tie each sale to the networking group where the lead for that sale first originated. Don’t stop at one generation, but go as far back as you can trace it. Maybe Ken called you because Mary gave him your number, but if Mary got your number several months ago from Larry, and you met Larry at Networkers Inc., then Networkers, Inc. was your source. Do this for every client and then add up the number of sales dollars under each networking group. When you are done, divide sales for each group by hours for that group, and you have sales per hour invested. Finally, compare your groups.

Are some groups more valuable than others? Most likely, yes. Is one group dominant? Could be. Either way, you should reward your best group—spend more time at it, take a leadership role, expand your reach in it. Go where you are making money. At the same time, the group at the bottom of your list needs to be taken off your schedule because there are too many great opportunities out there to let a bad group take up your valuable limited time. It’s a cold, hard, objective business decision on which group to dump—the one that is giving you the lowest sales per hour. If you wish to belong to a group that does not bring you value, that’s a charitable contribution decision that falls outside of sales.

Will the group you dropped complain and try to get you to reconsider? Probably as they are a business and their continuation is contingent on receiving income from members. But, at the end of the day, your first priority is to your business. When a group is not performing, dump it and find a new one or invest more time in the groups that are really ringing the bell.

There’s a lot more we could talk about on this and if you want additional details drop me a line or give me a call. Right now, it’s time to do some cold hard number crunching.

Jeff Bowe, Principal of ACTUM Group, is a sales trainer and outsourced sales manager who focuses on helping sales people make as much as they think they are worth, while increasing corporate profit as well. For more information, Jeff can be contacted at 317-577-3750 or

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  1. I use a referral tracking software to keep track of sources and the revenue that I close as a result of each referral. How do you recommend for your clients to keep track of the referral business they’re closing? Check


    Comment by AddressTwo — June 18, 2009 @ 9:05 am

  2. Great article. I’m guilty of failing to do the math. I don’t have a system to track results from networking. Tracking and measuring aren’t qualities listed under my “strengths” column. I’d love to see an article that focuses on a system to track those results. And if you’ve already written an article on it, (you already know that I won’t go looking for it….) please advise.

    The flip side to this is that without tracking results, we can become discouraged about a group that really was working all along. After years of networking, I’m just now beginning to find out that some of the business I enjoy now was rooted in a relationship that was started years ago in networking.

    Thank you for this article.

    John Wiley

    Comment by John Wiley — June 18, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  3. Thanks for the post Jeff.

    Addressing the time spent on selling activities is one of the top three initiatives for most coaching clients. What really opens their eyes is doing an audit of time spent. Everyone assumes they spend most of their day selling, but when they put a stop watch to their activities and track where they are spending their time…BAAAMMM! It’s like hitting them in the head with a 2 X 4.

    I have found that most clients spend less than 50% of their time on selling activities (as you stated in your post). Once their eyes have been opened, we make an action plan to correct the situation.

    If the time spent on networking activities doesn’t lead to actual selling activities, we cut the time spent. Some Networking groups have the right mix of attitude and actions that do lead to selling activities. We increase time spent at that networking group.

    It’s just like you called it Jeff. Some groups don’t lead you to the right kind of activities…we need to remove them from our calendar. Other groups actually increase the likelihood that you spend time on selling activities…we need to leverage these groups by increasing our time spent.

    Thanks the conversation Jeff!

    Larry Kevin
    The Actionator!

    Comment by Larry Kevin — June 18, 2009 @ 3:22 pm

  4. Full disclosure. I’m one of the owners of Indiana Business Network. Something that amazes me about many people that network is that they DO NOT MEASURE the results that networking generates.

    Sales persons that do not measure what their activity yields are flying blind. If you do a networking group, you have to keep track of how many leads you ACTUALLY CLOSE generated through the group. Benchmark that against other prospecting activity, such as cold calls, company supplied leads, internet, etc…

    Networking can have great value beyond sales, but if you are paid for selling don’t spin your wheels talking and drinking overpriced (but trendy) lattes. Use you time prospecting, presenting and following up.

    In speaking of old networking, John, how’s business?

    Comment by Mike Seidle — June 18, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

  5. Hey Mike! Business has really taken off in the last 6 weeks. Would love to meet you again and get caught up! I’m a latecomer to Linked in and Facebook, but I’m really trying to do better. Perhaps we can get connected there and in person.

    Great posts! I admit I’m not the measuring sort, and it is crazy isn’t it Mike?

    Comment by John Wiley — June 18, 2009 @ 7:28 pm

  6. Jeff,

    I liked your article. It has me thinking. There are SO many good groups out there today, more than ever.

    Is it better to be wide or deep? Both is good. But that is almost impossible.


    Comment by Kirk Boohe — June 18, 2009 @ 11:04 pm

  7. […] in using limited time.” But how should sales professionals manage their time effectively? In his article, Bowe states: Most salespeople spend less than 30% of their time in active selling and less than […]

    Pingback by Slaughter Development » Blog Archive » Cutting the Right Waste — June 19, 2009 @ 4:13 pm

  8. Nick,
    You are correct! Having a valid and easy way to track referrals is critical to accurate tracking. I encourage everyone to use some CRM or contact managements software like AddressTwo . Sure, we can sell using 3cx5 cards like our grandparents did, but we most of us don’t ride horses to work anymore either.
    Jeff Bowe

    Comment by infocusselling — June 23, 2009 @ 12:20 am

  9. John,
    The best system is one that you will use. We sold for decades using note pads and before that, well, I’d have to check the history books, but I have a pretty good guess that the old wagon vendors of the early American years all the way back to the vendors of ancient Rome knew who brought them business. If I had one overall suggestion, it would be to have a spot in each customer record for “source” and when you are creating the new client record, dig deep at that time to figure out where it really came from.
    An article? Maybe next month…I try to write what readers and clients are asking for.

    Comment by infocusselling — June 23, 2009 @ 12:28 am

  10. Mike,
    You are right there are many good groups out there and something I should have added to my article (but gee, the word count adds up so fast) is that everyone should actively look at new groups and compare them to their current groups. I’ve heard great things about IBN and one of my former partners found it to be his most valuable group. What works for one person may not work for another, so don’t take anyone else’s word…go try the group yourself. Compare it to your current group(s) and if a change is called for, make it.
    Jeff Bowe

    Comment by infocusselling — June 23, 2009 @ 12:30 am

  11. Kirk,
    This is a good debate. My experience is deep. When you are known in a group, it is also easier to get to new members because you can focus on them as they enter the group. The problem with wide is repetition. If you are too wide, it’s hard to get in front of people often enough to build top of mind awareness. So, my vote…is deep.
    Jeff Bowe

    Comment by infocusselling — June 23, 2009 @ 12:33 am

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