Being Bruce -: Networking Event Tip #5 - Quality Not Quantity

Monday, August 10, 2009

Networking Event Tip #5 - Quality Not Quantity

Networking Event Tip #5 - Quality Not Quantity

To make the most of the time you spend attending networking events, be sure you set realistic objectives. If an event is likely to have 60 to 80 attendees, ideally it would be great to convert every single one of them into customers or clients for life - even if you've never met before. But guess what? It's not going to happen.

Some folks treat networking events like middle school kids going out for Halloween - just like kids who run from house to house getting as much candy as possible, these misguided folks make fast, minimal connections, just enough to give and get business cards. While there are some groups that are set up specifically for this tactic, most networking groups are very different, and in fact if you run around collecting business cards, or walk around handing out your cards, you'll likely do your reputation more harm than good.

If all you want are names and addresses, use a directory. The highest and best use of networking events is to touch base with people you already know, nuture recently formed relationships, and meet a few new people with whom you will establish the beginning of a solid relationship. My personal goal is to leave each event with the names and contact info of two or three new folks with whom I'm highly motivated to follow up as soon as possible after the event. For a typical two hour event, two or three people is, to me, an optimum number of new contacts.

Granted, I may meet a dozen new people during an event, but, in a natural, unforced way, I find I gravitate to and spend the most time with people with whom I "click". Not everyone "clicks" with everyone else. And bear in mind, sometimes the person you "click" with might never be a client or customer, but if you do establish a good relationship, that person is a great potential referral source.

A good perspective to use is that when you go to networking events you aren't looking for customers, you're looking for strong future referral sources. If you think about who you personally refer others to in various fields, it's generally either people or companies with whom you've had personal experience and therefore trust or people or companies someone you trust and are friends with has mentioned before.

So it's all about strong, trust-based relationships. You don't build those extremely valuable relationships by scattering and grabbing business cards.

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.