My mom, Debby Peters, founder of Connext Nation had a great article in her last newsletter about the idea of networking events versus networking relationships. Check it out to read the whole article.
The point that really got me was when she was talking about whether we needed to attend a networking event — especially when our time was unusually limited (as it is for so many of us at this time of year). What she wrote made me pause. She said events are primarily mechanisms to initiate new relationships. If we aren’t seeking to meet new people, we would be better off devoting our available networking time to other networking activities which would strengthen our existing relationships.
The funny thing is, I think a lot of us get that backward. When our time becomes limited for whatever reason we usually cut out the one-to-one meetings — the coffees and lunches — and give ourselves the rationalization that at least we’re still attending the events. The thing is, though, the events are largely wasted if you can’t make the time to follow up with the people you meet.
After all, people do business with people they know, like, and trust — and we’re hardly likely to get there speaking with people for five minutes at a time at a networking event.