Networking encompasses all activities involved in forming business relationships to recognize, create or act upon business opportunities. Examples of networking include membership activities in professional organizations, distributing business cards at events to meet people and even “catching up” with associates over coffee. Personal interaction with colleagues, clients and potential customers has always been a critical component of business, but e3BFM believes that the growth of “marketing static” has placed a premium on effective networking.

Successful networking helps organizations build valuable vendor relationships, develop potential partnerships and groom desirable customers. Components of successful networking include: 1) Appropriately representing the organization’s values; 2) Connecting with the right targets and; 3) Establishing clear expectations.¬†Unfortunately, some business people apply the adage that “Any press is good press” to networking–which e3Business believes often results in¬†something completely different than networking: wasting time.

Too often, medical practices are approached by consultants who want to “build business” by helping providers “get the word out,” “create a buzz,” and “develop brand awareness.” Providers are asked to become regular speakers, attend conferences, participate in advisory panels, etc., all under the belief that these networking efforts will yield valuable business for the practice.

The truth is that for most providers it would be impossible for the above activities NOT to produce patients. Most providers will have some success in almost ALL types of networking. Almost every provider has a story about a business card handed out in the grocery store, gas station or birthday party that resulted in a new patient. Does that mean providers should hang out in the bread aisle with a pocket full of business cards? Of course not.

The opportunity cost of networking–what else could have been accomplished with the time, energy and effort committed–has to be included in determining the value of networking. If networking “opportunities” are not allowing for an accurate reflection of the practice, not connecting the provider to the appropriate clientele or not setting the groundwork for a successful relationship, the provider’s time is most likely best spent elsewhere.