“Sometimes it’s easier just to stick to what you know.”

That’s the response we often get at events we run when we talk about how to network on LinkedIn rather than using traditional prospecting methods.

Like cold calling, running newspaper ads and yes networking functions as well.

The real reason people stick to these types of methods is because they are comfortable with them.

Even if the results are minimal and continue to decline, they continue to use them because it’s what they know.

Any new marketing or sales initiative take effort to learn, it takes making mistakes and it takes going outside of your comfort zone. A place where many people just refuse to go…

So in this article we are going to discuss networking on LinkedIn versus networking functions to give you an understanding of the time costs and effectiveness of each.

We’ll also dive into some ways in which you can really leverage the true power of LinkedIn and to get in front of your target demographic rapidly.

The end result? To give you the push you need to step out of your comfort zone and really start to leverage LinkedIn for the true power it possesses.

Time Efficiency


Firstly let’s look at the differences from a time perspective.

For a networking function it’s generally going to take you at a minimum 30 minutes to commute there and 30 minutes to commute back by the time you interrupt what you’re already doing.

Most networking functions run for 4 hours, so you’re looking at a 5 hour time investment to go to an event.

During that time you’re probably able to speak with 1 person every 15 minutes, so that’s around 4 per hour meaning you’ll make new connections with 16 people.

LinkedIn on the other hand will take a few seconds to load up.

Then if you follow our 3 Step Methodology, a process that involves finding, engaging and connecting with your target market by sending them connection invites, this will take about an hour.

To find out more about our 3 Steps to LinkedIn Mastery methodology, the process we go through to build meaningful business relationships through the platform, click here.

As you can only send out 72 invites per day, you are limited to a number of people you can connect with and therefore limiting the time spent on a daily basis.

Using our methodology you’ll get 40 – 60% of people accepting your connection requests, meaning you will make 29 connections a day (40% of 72 rounded up).

Going over 72 invites per day may get you put in the naughty corner by LinkedIn, so we don’t recommend it.

Targeting


At networking functions –  do you really know who’s going to be there? Generally not.

Let’s face it, most key decision makers don’t have the time to go to networking functions, so it’s likely to be people from all walks of life.

From start up businesses to junior people from all types of industries and professions.

That’s why we have always found most networking functions to be untargeted and not industry specific.

If you’re lucky, 20% of the audience will be in your target audience, so of the 16 people you chat with about 3 would be potential leads.

Alternatively, if using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator tool you can really target people down using the Lead Builder as shown below:


If you’re unsure what Sales Navigator is, here’s a link to a blog post we have written about it.

This will bring up a list of your exact target market which you can begin engaging with and connecting within a couple of clicks:


Pretty targeted hey?

Costs


For a networking function firstly you need to take into consideration the commute costs and the time costs.

Let’s say the trip there and back would cost you $20. Depending on how you got there this is nothing outlandish.

Then you need to factor in your time costs. So what do you value yourself at per hour? For this example we’ll use $100 per hour.

That being true, for a standard networking function you’re looking at a $520 investment of your time and money.

Let’s say you go to 4 per month. The cost slowly adds up and you’re at a whopping $2080 per month of an investment into the functions.

And that’s if they are free events – if you’re going to paid events then it’s much more expensive.

LinkedIn can be free if you want to use just the free account.

However that’s going to limit you to your search abilities taking you much longer to find the people you want to connect with, so we suggest upgrading.

Here’s a link to one of our Ask Linkfluencer Shows where we discuss the paid versus free account.

For Sales Navigator you’re looking at $80 – $150 per month.

That’s less than your morning coffee a day – to help you get in front of hundreds of people in your target market per week.

It’s a no brainer – we know what we’re choosing!

Qualifying


Next up we have qualifying. Now, we spoke earlier about networking functions generally being untargeted, so qualifying relies on your ability to know who is a potential opportunity quickly in person.

Generally you begin talking to someone and takes a lot longer than expected.

The whole point of a networking function isn’t to talk to someone for 5 minutes to figure out they are not a good fit and move onto the next.

That’s not cool.

So really you never know who you are going to be talking to at a networking function.

You may get lucky and speak to someone who is a perfect fit for you or a potential partner that can introduce you to your target market.

These things do happen!

But they are few and far between, it’s really just a lucky dip.

However, with LinkedIn Firstly you have the lead builder search, which brings up the exact people you are looking to get in front of as shown earlier.

Then to add a layer to that, you can look at the LinkedIn users profile to see if they are someone you can help before connecting with them.

Once you are sure they are a good fit you can send them a connection request and personalised message inviting them to join your network.

Now that’s what we call targeted.

Wrapping Things Up


So let’s do the comparison for if you were going to go to one networking function versus spending that time connecting and engaging with your target market directly on LinkedIn.

Networking Function

Time spent: 5 hours

Connections made: 3

LinkedIn

Time spent 5.5 hours

Connections made: 160

So if you are looking to generate quality connections for your time spent, LinkedIn is clearly the winner.

Now we’re not saying to just sit in your office all day connecting with people and have no human interaction.

We understand those connections you make at a networking function are going to have built more rapport with you because you met in person.

However, due to the low volume of connections it means the chances of them being a quality prospect decreases significantly, therefore you need to go to more functions and spend more time with them.

Whereas LinkedIn is like a networking function on steroids and the quality is far stronger.

You can still build great relationships on LinkedIn that mimic the rapport you build in person – we cover that exact topic in one of our Ask Linkfluencer Shows that can be seen here.

So sure still head to networking functions if you know your target market is there. Human interaction is still super important because nothing beats actually meeting people in the flesh.

Just be more strategic with your time, don’t go if the main reason you are going is to generate business, if that’s the reason you’re going you’re better off leveraging LinkedIn.

However, if you want to get out and just meet new people then go. But don’t let going to a networking function derail the attempts to grow your business.

Hope you enjoy the read and we’ll see you on LinkedIn.
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