Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Putting On The Breaks

Below is a timely re-post of a blog I wrote almost three years ago to the day. As gas prices continue to rise with no end in sight, the value of social networks like Fast Pitch! are becoming more obvious each passing day. It's now time to reconsider your approach to networking.
(from May 6, 2008)
Hybrid Networking
Gas prices in the United States recently reached $4 per gallon in most parts of the country. For many small business professionals, the rapid increase in gas prices has become a serious business concern, particularly for companies whose sales and support staff rely on face-to-face interaction with customers. Many companies are now evaluating the ROI of each type of 'trip' being made by employees to determine their cost-effectiveness. Daily commutes, individual sales calls and networking functions are all being scrutinized, and in many cases removed from budgets as the speculation of increased fuel costs continue.
For many professionals living in the suburbs the cost of driving their SUV (at least until they purchase a more fuel efficient car) has become a rude awakening as gas costs can often exceed $1,000 per month. Because of this, many people are beginning to take a closer look at more efficient ways of doing business. For many, working at home has become an obvious way to curb monthly fuel costs.
Additionally, many companies are beginning to rely more and more on web conferencing software tools to facilitate sales meetings. Look no further than a 3-month stock chart of Citrix (maker of GoTo Meeting) to see where this is headed. (Update: check out the chart since 2009). In fact, recent studies suggest that less people are attending networking events, tradeshows, expos and conferences as the cost of travel (gas) continues to rise.
From my vantage point, I think what we're now witnessing is the beginning (Update: resurgence) of what I call HYBRID NETWORKING - a blending of two forms of networking (online and offline). Much like a Hybrid Car, most of us aren't ready to completely abandon gas (offline networking) altogether, however we realize we need to become more efficient by using technology (online networking). Similarly, for many of us in business, we cannot completely ignore the importance of offline (face to face) networking, yet we also realize that as the ROI of traveling continues to decrease, the need to discover alternative ways to communicate (online networking) will increase.
Fast Pitch! is clearly in a position to benefit from Hybrid Networking as we continue to offer more features than any other online network in the world. As I mention time and time again, we've designed Fast Pitch! to allow people (particularly small business owners) the ability to network and market their business in a more open and cost-effective way.
So, the next time you hop in your car to drive 30 miles to a networking event, consider the cost of that trip. Chances are, your costs are exceeding the $40 you'll spend on your entry fee and bar tab... It will also include another $5 in gas. And for those of you who attend multiple events each week... well... do the math.
The attractive alternative of course, is to take part in more online networking - which allows you to network on your own terms, with more people, at less cost. Speaking of cost...
A monthly membership to Fast Pitch!
costs less than 2 gallons of gas.
Maybe it's time to put the breaks on all of those networking events and try a different approach?