When I first meet with a client I always ask what activities they currently pursue for networking and what they are getting out of each one. Almost inevitably, they list attending networking events such as Chamber of Commerce lunches. They often also say they get little or nothing out of them. That makes it doubly unfortunate that most people believe that showing up for these gatherings is what networking is all about.

In fact, it’s only the beginning.

With respect to attending these meetings, the mistake most make is that they think if they go to enough of them, somehow, magically, business will begin to flow their way. They measure their success by the number of contracts or dollars that they get from each one.

In reality, the best measurement of a networking event’s success is how many one-to-one meetings you arrange as a result of attending. Events only provide the potential to begin new relationships. Extending and strengthening them happen later, away from the event.

Not expecting a sale every time you walk into an event takes a lot of pressure off. Exchanging that expectation for one about the number of friends you might make will make it a heck of a lot more enjoyable. After all, you’ll essentially be playing a game where he who meets the greatest number of new friends wins.

Sounds like a lot of fun to me.