How do you get the most out of networking events? Firstly, one has to decipher the purpose of attending the event and 8 times out of 10 when the primary objective is to obtain as many sales lead as humanly possible, networking will be eventually be viewed as a regurgitated and extremely tired Sales pitch event.
So, lets strip it back to basics, what is the primary objective in attending such events? The clue is in the name “Network” –
the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically : the cultivation of productive relationships (Miriam Webster Dictionary).
Networking objectives can range from: promoting brand/company in order to increase market visibility, attending a focused/industry-specific events seeking collaborative opportunities with industry peers or simply to add new members to your own personal network. It is for you to determine your Networking objective for each event and there will be occasions when an event will not fulfil any objective and in that instance, you can simply choose not to attend.
One of the many benefits of understanding and being clear on your network objective, is being selective as to which events to attend and not falling victim to Networkilitus i.e. “being present at every single network event” and possibly at the expense of your day job for fear of missing out, even though there is not a clear and identifiable benefit of attending.
Thus when attending a networking event, be clear of what your objective is and try not to deviate as it is all too common to fall into the trap of immediately pitching product/services immediately upon introduction which can give the impression of someone who is just after a sale as opposed to being perceived as someone who is engaging with others to build solid relationships. If you were on the receiving end, who would you rather spend time talking to? This is not to say that a lead cannot be attained from a networking event as it most definitely can. However, this would generally happen once a relationship has been established and subsequently nurtured and off the back, a mutually beneficial transaction may occur.
Whatever the primary networking objective is, aim to remember “People buy People first” and building a solid relationship is the foundation for a productive relationship.