Of course, business networking has a direct effect on your income, but how much? What factors are the most important? What behaviors should a person undertake who is trying to increase networking opportunities and income?
Creating a Profitable Network
You have more information and greater reach than ever thanks to the internet. The secret to success is to realize that much of the content (and contacts) that you have the ability to reach is pure noise. Pareto’s Rule applies quite well: You will be able to attribute 80 percent of your income to 20 percent of your network. You can use new technology to identify and streamline this 20 percent more readily than ever before, and mute the 80 percent that brings you little to nothing to keep from wasting your time.
Nearly every social media platform comes equipped with a robust and free analytics platform that you can bolster even more with third party applications. Instagram was the latest major platform to add analytics through its new business account. [Note: Follow the steps on this page if you want to change your personal Instagram account into a business account.]
Most business people think that social media analytics are only good for B2C relationships, but they can be applied to B2B supplier, partner and vendor relationships as well. They are also helpful in identifying potential demographics for a franchise operation; you may just need to tweak your metrics to find people who are willing to spend money rather than just watch and click. A savvy business might test the waters through a GoFundMe or Kickstarter in order to analyze the demographics of people who actually spend on a brand.
Breadth vs. Depth
All of this advice is not to say that a wide network is not useful for procuring income; it certainly is, especially on volume-based platforms such as YouTube or in volume-based industries like small retail promo items. Your challenge here is to:
1. tier your access, and
2. optimize your personalization strategy.
Tiered access can be formal, such as through a leveled password on a server, or informal, as many small brands implement on Patreon. It simply means that people have to pass a certain level of scrutiny before they receive a specific level of access to you. Tiered access is a time-saver, and it also lets you focus your attention squarely on the people who are actually giving you the resources to continue doing business.
Tiered access can be as simple as providing a free gift to a customer who spends a certain amount of money with you; however, the always-on connectivity of the internet gives you the ability to leverage something even more valuable — your personal time. The modern customer loves to know that he or she is rubbing shoulders with the big dogs. When you are cultivating a reward system, keep in mind that you do not always have to spend money to tier your structure.
Optimizing Your Personalization Strategy
How many people can you please with a single personalization effort? How much can you automate that effort? The more that you can answer these two questions, the more people you will please with your personalization. Keep in mind that personalization does not mean that you have to say a person’s name in a piece of correspondence, although nothing is wrong with traditional methods of personalizing communications. People today are happy to be personalized by their buyer profiles. It is perfectly legitimate to let a certain contingent of your network know that they are on a level above other members of your network in an exclusive group without having to call them all by name. However, automation tools give you the ability to put their names into correspondence one by one, anyway, so you are not even giving up that technique.
For instance, a professional email marketing platform such as MailChimp allows you to send out thousands of personalized messages in an automated fashion. The email program connects to your online Rolodex, pulls names, addresses and personal information from buyer profiles, and inserts that information into a well-written template that applies to an entire group. The correspondence looks completely personal to the untrained eye. Even other business people who know what you are doing will be happy that you correctly guessed their motivations and that you are smart enough to automate.
Putting It All Together
In short, creating a profitable network means focusing your effort, not expanding it. Let people know they are special, and use automation tools to speed along the process of personalization. Correctly implemented, you will build your network exponentially, creating an expanding web of contacts and eager customers for the future of your business.