All too often I find myself standing at a networking event talking to the same people I talked with at the last event, and the one before that and probably the last 6 ones I attended. Or I get asked to join “tips/leads” groups just to be a warm body. Sound familiar? What a waste of time!
If you want to sit around and have a cocktail with some friends, that’s fine, but a networking event is NOT the place to socialize with your buddies. Are you really going to this event to meet new prospects and connections? Or just going because you need one more networking event on the calendar?
Knowing your purpose when you network is the first and most important step in networking. Ask yourself these questions before going to an event:
- Will there be people there I NEED to meet?
- Will there be clients there that I can reconnect with?
- Will there be multiple industries represented?
- Will there be 20 of my competitors there or will I be able to stand out?
- Can I get in and out in an hour or less and still make some new connections?
If you answered “no” to more than one of these questions, I would seriously reconsider attending. Your time is valuable, usually worth money to someone. If you’re not going to come out of the event with new contacts, or new one-to-ones set, its not worth it.
If you answered “yes”, GREAT! Go with a purpose! I’m going to collect 5 new contacts’ business cards. I’m going to set 3 new one-to-ones. I’m going to meet 2 new bankers. I’m going to meet 4 new referral partners. I’m going to only stay for 35 minutes. I’m going to introduce Sally to Joe and Bob.
Network with a purpose. Make the most out of your valuable time. You don’t need to be everywhere, everyday if that’s not going to make you wiser, more connected or more money.