I’ve been to all kinds of networking events – posh expensive ones in posh expensive hotels, quirky ones in pubs, regular ones, irregular ones, expensive, cheap .. and it has only taken me 30 years to admit to myself that I haven’t really got much benefit from them. I always approach each event with some optimism about what I might learn or who I might meet, but I invariably come away feeling disappointed. I know it’s down to me to make the connections, follow up etc and you can’t always blame the event for a lack of success, and if I was a total newbie I would accept some criticism for not giving things enough time to develop. But having attended hundreds of events since the late 80’s – the inescapable conclusion I have come to about networking events is as follows:
- I am a salesman, I haven’t always been a salesman but I am now
- Everyone else is a salesman
- Salesmen don’t buy things, they sell them
So the last place I’m going to succeed is in a room full of people who, whatever else they may say, are primarily and rightly 99% focussed on their own sales. Yes I might meet someone who may become a business partner ( which did actually happen once) , or who may introduce me to some business, but I prefer to build those relationships one to one and it feels like formal networking events just don’t offer enough value to me to justify attendance. I know it’s different for different types of business, but I’m looking for fairly specific vertical market contacts who are best contacted in other ways. The ‘know,Like,Trust’ process is sound but it doesn’t have to happen at a networking event. The people I really like doing business with are the ones I can relate to, and this usually involves face to face interaction – not linkedin or facebook.