Bob and Carl always had a good time at the Chamber
lunches, but never seemed to get any referrals.

Janet certainly wasn’t a “reluctant networker”. She loved to network. She attended every event she had time for and could talk with just about anyone she met. She always had a lot of fun and not a few laughs wherever she showed up. People acknowledged her as the life of the party.

So why didn’t she have anything to show for it?

It’s easy for us to see that folks who have limited social skills might be challenged in a networking situation. You’ll often see them at the outskirts of the gathering with a look on their face that says “When can I leave?” Strangely enough, though, the social butterflies can have the same problem getting results and for largely the same reason.

They haven’t set any goals.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having a good time at a networking event. In fact, if you aren’t having fun, you probably aren’t doing it right. Still, we always have to remember that we have an overarching impetus for showing up at these events: We want to grow our networks.

To that end, whether we are wallflowers or butterflies, when we enter the event, we must always have a goal in mind — some measurable target that we have to reach before we leave the venue. We’ve seen how this can help those who aren’t comfortable in social situations — namely it acts as a finish line that when they cross it, they can head back to their cave.

With the socially skilled it works in a slightly different way. They have no problem being at the event. Instead, it helps them stay on task to achieve their ultimate networking goals. When they achieve their target, then they can get on with the partying.

Ultimately, the purpose of setting these event goals, no matter where you fall on the social skills continuum, is to make sure that you aren’t wasting your time and money showing up at networking events. Once you’ve accomplished that, you can socialize and party (or not) to your heart’s content.

Photo credit: Sarah Murray