People get so confused about how to make attending a
networking event work for them. It is not difficult, and with some simple
pre-work and follow up, one can maximize their time in such incredible ways
that they could adopt this strategy as a fun, smart way to become better known.
And in business, it’s not who you know, but who knows you,
likes you, and understands what it is that you do – enough so that they can
refer you when they hear key trigger words that tie into your value
This week, I realized that four business associations I
belong to – all very good ones, were having networking events nearly all at the
same time. Most of them were having “pub night” types of
get-togethers….. very common this time of year to kick off the year and get
people together. I knew all of the events would be fun, and all were very inexpensive
to attend (a factor for small business owners). I had to choose where to attend. It was a
simple choice – I chose none of them, and instead went two hours north to an area I will be moving to
in a few months and will be teaching classes in the community.
So get this, I chose the event where I knew no one, and
didn’t even know the area well. I didn’t
know what the “fun” factor would be – but I had more potential for
the immediate future for this event than others where I know a lot of folks.
[note: think ahead why you are attending, and be strategic about it]
As it turned out, I made a fantastic choice. I met a number
of great people, felt very well received, and had a fun time. I learned a lot about
several areas I needed to know about, and this was all done in a easy and
comfortable way. With about ten business
cards given me by some great new contacts, I now have followed up with emails
and in a couple of cases, a short handwritten note.
Be sure you know why you are attending an event – not just
“to get business cards” – focus on what it is that you need, and
bring with you ideas to help others. I led with value, and with the class I’m
teaching at the local community college, I told all my new contacts that if
they know anyone in business who wants to increase sales – this two-part class
will cost less than an hour of my consulting (per attendees) – so it is a great
offering I can make.
Think before you network!