The same scenario repeats itself every week: you receive an email from a networking organization inviting you to a 6-9pm mingle. And, if you are an adept networker, there is simply one question that pops into your head: How is this networking event going to benefit my business? Sometimes it feels as though we have all been brainwashed about the extraordinary benefits of networking that instead of being picky about which opportunities to try we decide to grab on to as many as possible. This not only is a waste of your money and time but also creates a bottleneck situation with your follow-ups. In the end, you just have a depleted banking account and a lot of business cards. Below are three steps to help you decipher which networking events are beneficial and which are better worth skipping.
What Kind Of Event Are You Attending? Pay To Play is a term that coined within the networking industry. The theory is simple: weed out unworthy guests by raising your prices. Generally, however, you can tell exactly what kind of event you are attending by the price range.
Free Events. Any free event is focusing on quantity versus quality so, I usually highly recommend that you skip these kinds of events altogether. Unless, they are a Meetup or community events where the same people come every time and the focus is on building deep relationships.
$10-30. The next tier is priced between $10-30. These events are usually sales events where the host or sponsor will try to sell you something at the end of it. Now, these events can be a fantastic opportunity if the host or sponsor has the same audience as you. The same theory can be applied to events with speakers as you can usually decipher who would want to learn more about a certain subject. For example, if there is a session on SEO and Social Media and you are a Social Media Strategist then this is an ideal networking event for you. No, you won’t learn anything new but you can expect a room full of ideal clients who are frustrated with social media and want to learn how to use it efficiently.
$45+ Events that are $45 and higher are my favorite because they normally imply a certain quality in terms of the people who attend, the attention with which the event is put together and the speaker or main activity of the evening. Even at these events though it is important to try to decipher as much information as possible so you can make sure it’s worth the investment.
Who Will Be There? It’s true that there are some invitations that give almost no indication as to what their event will entail or who will be attending. (Note: if you host networking events always make sure to be incredible specific in terms of benefits and target audience this will help you insure a better turn out). So, what do you do? Try to gather as much information as possible from the invitation and the organization. What is their mission and who do they help? These will generally be the people who attend the event. If the invitation pink, you can expect a strong female presence, or black, you can expect for a formal setting. If you are incapable of deciphering enough information to make an educated decision then simply email the host. Most hosts are always looking for more potential attendees and will be happy to answer your questions.
Why Are You Going? Once you have deciphered the kind of event you will be attending and who will be in the room, it’s time to become crystal clear on your motivations. Please apply the same rules to clubbing as to networking: Not everyone who goes networking is looking to go home with someone. Just as there are girl nights and dancing extravaganzas and many different reasons to go clubbing the same is true for networking. So, it’s not enough to say you want to go to networking to meet people. Make a clear goal for the evening and stick to it. This will not only help you stay focused through out the evening instead of spending your whole time by the cheddar cheese tray speaking to only one person. Put the cheese down and start working the room. Making a goal is also very telling of which opportunities to look out for. For example, if you are going out to meet affiliates or referral partners then you wouldn’t necessarily go to the same event than if you were looking for new clients.
Which networking events do you attend? Let us know your favorite groups below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.