Being Bruce -: Networking Event Tip #14 - Don't Eat or Drink Too Much

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Networking Event Tip #14 - Don't Eat or Drink Too Much

Keep your primary purpose in mind. You attend business networking events to meet people, to refresh relationships, and to make an impression. It's called "marketing". Even though there is often great food and ample liquid refreshment, these events aren't the place you go for a meal or a lot of drinking.

It is, of course, polite to be appreciative to the event organizers, hosts, and sponsors for the food and, if it's not a cash bar, the libations as well, but your primary focus should be on meeting and talking with people. If you're consistently in the corner, in the middle of the room, or in the worst case, standing right in front of the food table, stuffing your face, don't expect to make a lot of new friends.

There are two exceptions to this general rule. If the focus of the sponsor is on a new or special food item, say Copper River Salmon in that short season in the northwest or champion class BBQ in the southeast, it's certainly appropriate and expected that you'll make a big deal over the food. Also, if you're meeting at a venue known for a special food or drink item, for example in a micro-brewery, focus on the local beer is also right (no one is forced to drink at these events, so if you don't drink don't worry about being pressured).

There is one practical reason not to get too hung up with eating and drinking at business networking events: if one hand is holding a drink and one hand is holding a plate of food and you're all standing, how do you practically manage to exchange business cards, shake hands, or even make a few notes on a 3x5 card or notepad? I find at most events I just ask for a bottle of water and even then I often lose it when I put it down to take photos or take notes.

Bottom line: if you're hungry or want to go drinking, save it for after the networking event.

This post is one in a series on how to make the most of in-person networking events. If you're going to go (and I suggest you do if your business benefits from relationships), you might as have the most fun possible and give and receive the greatest benefits from the occasion.

If you know of a networking event in the greater Wilmington Area [which means to me anywhere from Topsail Island, NC to North Myrtle Beach, SC] that's open to visitors, drop me a note ahead of time and I'll try to post it.