To network or not to network… that is the question…

I don’t know about you but networking isn’t something I’m always excited to do, especially going to a new event – surprisingly enough I am a bit of an introvert.

And I’ve learnt to be more discerning about the events I attend and there are events I regularly attend where I know I’ll have some great conversations.

In part it’s about mindset, if I decide I’m going to enjoy the event and have at least one great conversation then that’s what happens but if I’m only going through the motions, usually because I’m aware of things that need to be done then guess what… neither the event nor the conversations are rarely exciting. But the reason for that is mostly because I wasn’t present.

But the bigger question is why network in the first place? What’s the purpose of attending? To me its all about having some great conversations with new people and those I already know. Its about building relationships and trust and having some fun.

So what’s the point for you?

  • Please don’t say to get more business, that’s a by product of networking. Going into the event focused on selling means you’re coming from a very different place of going into the event simply being open to having great conversations.
  • Depending on where you’re networking, and the event, it might feel like its full of people who already have long standing relationships… and yes, that’s probably true… but they too are interested in meeting new people. So smile and step forward and ask if you can join their conversation… choose one that’s lively as it will be more interesting.
  • And if you’re a bit of an introvert, like me, still roll with it, shoulders back, smile, breathe and be you. Don’t try to be the person you aren’t as that’s far too tiring for many different reasons.
  • Some say there’s no point in going to certain events because they only want to meet big businesses. And yes, big businesses might not attend but until we start building relationships we don’t know whom the people in the room know, who their clients are or their clients’ clients. It goes back to the sole purpose of networking is to build relationships not to sell.
  • And don’t expect immediate results i.e. to have made fantastic new business relationships the first time you attend an event, it’s a bit like dating. Sometimes you’ll have made arrangements to meet for coffee and sometimes the conversations didn’t get that far. But connect with the people on LinkedIn etc. and start a conversation. So when you see them next time there’s already a greater connection and a chat over coffee is an obvious next step.

Finally, not every event will be right for you. Sometimes the people aren’t quite right, or their behaviour and/or attitude isn’t for you. If it doesn’t feel right then it probably isn’t… so try somewhere new.