The hidden costs of online networking?


Dr Ivan Misner, the founder of BNI, has a perfect description for business networking “it’s not net sit or net eat, it’s net work.”

I’ve been involved with using online networking in my business since 2008 and just as for offline networking this is something to be aware of online – particularly with the emergence of social gaming.

Seth Godin posted a blog in March 2011 ‘Are you making something?’ which raises some important points:

More and more, we’re finding it easy to get engaged with activities that feel like work, but aren’t. I can appear just as engaged (and probably enjoy some of the same endorphins) when I beat someone in Words With Friends as I do when I’m writing the chapter for a new book. The challenge is that the pleasure from winning a game fades fast, but writing a book contributes to readers (and to me) for years to come.

The boss (and even our honest selves) would probably freak out if we took hours of ping pong breaks while at the office, but spending the same amount of time engaged with others online is easier to rationalise.

Goals

It’s important to have a goal of what you want to achieve online, for example whether it is increased visibility, customer support or new client acquisition.

Once you have the goal you can then come up with a plan to achieve it, such as allocating a specific time in the diary and setting out what you want to achieve in that time.

When you are networking online it is easy to be diverted if you don’t have a goal and plan, with the result that you can actually be ‘notworking’ instead of networking.

What’s the cost?

I was disturbed recently to read a blog where someone had mentioned that they hadn’t achieved much over the last few years online using a particular website, only to be told by several posters that they hadn’t given it enough time and should continue – a real danger of confusing notworking and networking.

Thinking about this, I wondered what the impact on a business could be if they continued with unproductive notworking online:

Assuming someone is spending one hour a day (many people spend more than this) the costs per year would be:

1 hour x say 240 work days a year = 240 hours lost.

Assuming an average charge out rate for a business owner of £100/hour this means that the cost of notworking is:

£24,000 a year !

Action

When you look at what notworking online could be costing you, it’s important to make sure that what you are doing is taking you closer towards the goal you have set.

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