There is a surfeit of networking events at the moment. Clearly a great way to meet new people and exchange ideas, but not right for everyone. You could conceivably start with a slap up breakfast network at around 7.30am, do a mid morning event over coffee, a lunch network taking you through to 2pm, possibly fit in a few one-2-ones, before zipping into town for dim sum and more chat. Which is great for a chin-wag, but pretty poor for the waistline and disastrous for getting any work done.
So what should we do? Well, the first question to ask is whether or not you need to go to a networking event at all. It’s a real buzz word at the moment, but in all fairness, we’ve always networked, just not called it that. What about the trade association meetings you attend? Or the people down the sports club? The ones on courses, conferences and exhibitions?
If you do feel the need for ‘formal’ networking, first of all, find one which suits you in terms of timings, frequency and members. I enjoy the monthly ‘Preston Business Network‘ lunch, and I’ve heard great things about BEN (but never been), but meeting people at 7.30am? AND being civil?. Social media (such as Twitter and LinkedIn) provides masses of networking possibilities from your own office. It works for me, but my mind, nothing beats talking face to face.
Finally, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received came from Mark Williams who explained what happens when you outstay a conversation because you’re trying to appear interested. He said:
“The perception is that you’re being rude by going; but the reality is you’re being rude by staying”.
So if you’ll excuse me, there’s just someone else I’d like to catch…