In everyone’s myth of the time deprived world, comes those moments of every busy executive or entrepreneur when they must ask should I stay or should I go? (Can you just hear the music from “The Clash” in your head now?) What I’m referring to are the dozens of networking events that bombard us via email, text, fax, snail mail, flyers, bulletin boards, updates and newsletters.
They could be industry luncheons, professional women’s groups, professional men’s groups, chamber mixers, meetups, tweetups, structured networking events, after hour mixers, open houses, ribbon cuttings – you name it in the busy business person’s world there are a slew of events that come your way (much like the slew of advertising venues that attack you when you go into business… I know my fellow entrepreneurs can relate).
How does a busy person decide which ones make sense to attend? When work is pulling at you, that large stack of papers doesn’t seem to have changed, that unanswered email list has grown exponentially and there are still “things to do”, you find yourself asking “should I stay or should I go”.
There are THREE CORE ACTIVITIES for any networking event. When an opportunity to network avails itself, think no more of being the traditional “grip, grin and grazer” but become the person that takes charge of their time and priorities.
- Is there someone that will be attending that event/meeting or that can attend that event of meeting that I can make a deeper connection WITH?
Review the list of attendees or maybe you’ve been to a meeting or an event like this before so you know who are the ‘regulars’. Do you need to get to know any of them better. Are they one of the 18 people you need to know? Then, use this even to get to know them better.
- Is there someone you can make a connection FOR?
Is there someone that needs to be at this meeting? This event will have all of their key connections, influencers and decision makers that could help them personally or professionally – so why not invite them? Nothing will deepen a connection more when you genuinely help someone get connected.
- Is there someone you need to connect with whom you’ve never MET?
Will there be a person there that you’ve not ever met but need to meet? Could it be someone who will keep you up to date on industry trends? Or, a decision maker, influencer or a connector that will help you get further, farther, faster? Or, might they have some insight into an organization that will help you better understand it? There are people you need to meet. Especially, if you don’t’ have all of the 18 people you need to know in place. This could be the place then.
Now, just as another song canters, “two out of three ain’t bad”. This means that you must have the ability to do two of these connection activities in order to make a positive choice to attend an event.
For example, you’re invited to a mixer and you know one of your new contacts really needs to meet the leaders of this group so you:
1. Invite them to the event and meet them there and introduce them to the officers or committee members of the group.
2. Then, you call another contact you have that is a member of this group and ask “will you be at this event? Would like to reconnect and see what’s up?”
That’s two out of three. If you’ve got those two things in place, then the answer is “I should GO to the event”.
Make networking connections a strategy and not just something you ‘stumble upon’!
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