So, what networking events should you attend and avoid? I’ve made fruitful and lasting connections at networking events both in person and virtual. And I’ve sat through awful presentations looking for an emergency exit.

I was introduced to a customer which became a multi-million dollar contract at an event, and I’ve waded through bore after bore attempting to sell me their latest greatest that I didn’t need or want.

So, how do you know which networking events will be worthwhile and which will be a waste of time?

What Networking Events Should You Attend and Avoid?

Where to Begin

Before you can pick the best networking event to attend you need to consider a few points.

  • What’s your purpose – Are you there to meet an existing client and build your relationship, find new prospects, locate a vendor, or look for a new position? What do you need?
  • Who’s attending –Will the people that might be able to help you with your purpose be in attendance?

What Type of Event is it?

What type of event is it? Is it a professional or industry related event? Is there an agenda? If so, what are the topics and who are the speakers? Is it a learning opportunity?

All networking events aren’t created equal, some are professional or industry related while others are all encompassing. There are social events, conferences, and seminars that all offer networking opportunities. Regardless of the type of event, if it doesn’t fit your purpose and your target isn’t attending, there might be other events better suited to your needs.

What to Avoid

Let me come right out of the gate and say speed dating networking nights are not the best place to begin. They’re usually random attendees from multiple industries who have nothing in common other than being familiar with the sponsor.

  • Stay away from gimmicky events, such as contest driven events, or those who make outlandish claims of success. When an event is marketed by sharing testimonials it’s a sales pitch. The question becomes what are they selling?
  • Avoid high fees. I’ve been “invited” to join exclusive groups where I’ll be the only member from my industry. I’ve even attended a few as a guest. Unfortunately, I’ve not been to one that wasn’t more concerned about its own agenda than that of the members.

Other Considerations

  • Where is the event being held? Is it an appropriate venue for your purpose?
  • When is the event? I like morning and breakfast events. People are there for a reason and it’s not only cocktails and socializing.
  • How many will attend? I like smaller focused groups (10-12 attendees) or mid-sized open events (30 or less). When it gets much bigger it’s difficult, at least for me, to make strong connections. There are too many people and too much going on. It might be the ADHD.
  • Who is the organizer? What do you know about the individual or organization that put the event together? What’s their track record?

What do You Need and Want?

Next week I’m attending a breakfast event at a local financial institute. It’s a speaker series. I’ve attended two previous events in this series. At each the speaker offered valuable takeaways for small businesses and there was time to network as well as participate in a round table discussion. This event may not be a traditional networking event, but it’s an excellent networking opportunity. What’s your next event?

How Can I Help You?

I’d always considered myself an effective networker. I’m friendly, easy to talk to, and I’ve never met a stranger. However, none of that makes me a good networker – it makes me outgoing. If I wanted to be the most effective networker I could be, I needed a plan. That’s how my networking workbook, Help Networking started.

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

So, does your business have a management training plan? Because, if not, many organizations, large and small, use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. Check it out.

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash