Wait, there are cons?
You wouldn’t think there would be a negative thought behind going to an event and networking, but with all things we feel help us with completing goals, there will always be a counter-argument explaining the opposite.
The definition of networking, according to dictionary.com, is “a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest”. See, even in the definition they use a positive term like “supportive”.
I am sure almost all of us have been to a networking event once or twice. If you haven’t been to a conference or exhibition, perhaps you have been to a networking meeting for a university or college. An orientation would fit the description of “networking”. According to a recent article by Entrepreneur, they say that there are a few positives from networking at events. Three in particular I agree with the most.
When you are out and about at events, your company name gets heard. These days, it is so easy to stay in the office and do all of your marketing online. It’s fast, cost-effective, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on event tickets, transportation, and possible hotel rooms. However, you are limiting your audience! There is a whole group of companies and brands who would rather do all of their marketing face-to-face or via phone calls. Don’t limit your audience, enlarge it by reaching out to both sides!
With every person you meet, you are able to offer your personal resources as well as gather new ones. Whether it be someone who knows a really good printing company that would be helpful for your company or a tech-savvy engineer who would love to help fix the bug in your computer, you are learning of new potential resources that may be more difficult to find if you didn’t attend networking events. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and find out how you can help each other.
A breath of fresh air
Sitting in front of the computer eight hours a day is “the job”- checking emails, marketing online, looking for prospective clients, and everything else you do! However, that can get repetitive and although it’s successful, it helps to get out of the office and do something else! A change of scenery is refreshing and meeting new people who can help you and your business is still “the job”.
There is a strong argument for people to attend networking events, but there are also a few different reasons why some companies haven’t yet taken the approach to event networking. Some companies are completely e-commerce and do everything online, like the company that I work for, AnyPromo. With today’s technology and advancement, you can easily find leads, resources, and brand your company all via the world-wide web. An article from Harvard Business Review describes more reasons why networking at events doesn’t work.
I have to say when I read the title of the article, my jaw may have dropped a little. An article from HBR with a title “Don’t Waste Your Time on Networking Events” mentally forced me to open the article and read more. And after I read it, I noticed that they brought up some very interesting points.
One event, many different objectives
The problem with networking with a bunch of strangers at one event is that everyone has a different objective. Of course, some may be more in-line with others, but when you are taking the time to individually meet people and a majority of people you have met cannot directly benefit you professionally, then you may say you have wasted your time.
Why rely on a public event when you can create your own
A good point that HBR addressed was instead of spending your time at an event where you can hope to successfully network and create leads, build your own event designed for exactly what you are looking for!\
If you create your own guest list, then you can control the type of people who attend your event. This gives you access to create the environment and objectives of the party. You are also able to create the atmosphere. Choose an activity that your guests will like. You can also add a +1 to the invitation! If you want to grow your connections and resources then inviting a guest of a guest is a good idea. You are increasing your opportunities to connect with the right people.
Instead of a large event, you can also create a small event, roughly between four and six people. This allows you to really hand-pick just a few people to accomplish exactly what you have in mind. This could be strengthening your relationship with a top client and their associates or beginning a new relationship with a prospective client. Steer away from a traditional dinner and be creative with your invite- a hike, golf, a painting class, or a wine tasting class! This will allow you to really focus on your objectives.
Whether you like to stay in the office or venture off to new events, I think the one thing that we are always certain of is what our goals are. Would an international event have more opportunities for me than a golf event? Where will I have the most success? And if you don’t know the answer to those questions, then try all options! Because, let’s be honest, all of these options sound fun and productive! Which would you choose?