Yesterday, I mentioned that one of the things you can do to help develop a networking relationship is to invite the other person to a networking event you think they might enjoy (and pay for them, since they are your guest).

The challenge with inviting a guest (or attending an event with someone you know, for that matter) is that they can often distract you from the ultimate goal of meeting more people.  Now, you might be able to make the argument that your goal is to further your relationship with your guest.  If that is the case, then you are fully justified in spending all your time with them.  Rather than taking the chance of being interrupted constantly, however, you are better off skipping the networking event and instead just the two of you go for coffee.

If you decide instead that you want to be cooperative networkers, what I would recommend first is that the invitation come only after you have already gotten to know each other.  Then you can work together to make better use of the event.  Some plans you might consider (and talk over with your guest ahead of time):

  1. Split the time.  Each of you spend part of the event doing your regular networking.  Then, after you have achieved your goals, you can get back together and sociallize.
  2. Split the time, plus.  Again, each of you do your own networking, but also keep an eye out for people whom your guest might benefit from meeting.  Since you’ve already gotten to know each other outside the event, you should have a good idea of whom they are seeking.
  3. Touch base.  Separate for the duration of the event, but periodically check in to see how things are going, especially if you have someone you want them to meet.
  4. Wrap up.  Separate for the duration of the event with the intention of spending time together after it ends.  Then you can spend time reviewing what happened and whom you met.
  5. Establish accountability.  This can be done in addition to any of the previous strategies.  At some point, tell your guest whom you will be calling later and when.  Ask them to help you out by checking in on you at a later date.

As you can see there are a lot of ways, working in concert with a guest, you can make an event doubly effective.  Also remember, by helping them make more good contacts, you are expanding your own network.  Ultimately that will benefit you more than an hour or so of the two of you chatting in the corner by yourselves.

So, what other “tag team” networking strategies have you used?