Maybe you like them. Maybe you hate them. Maybe you’ve never been. Anyway you cut it, there are a few things that always apply to networking events.
1. Networking Events Are Awkward.
Who do I approach first? How do I end this conversation? How can I say hi to Joanie when she is in the middle of that group? Should I have brought a buddy? Why did I bring this person with me? Where do I sit? Where do I stand? Why isn’t anyone here? Why are there so many people here? Did I come overdressed? I don’t have answers to any of these questions. I never will because they come up and loom every time. The good thing is everyone else in the room is going through the same thing.
2. Networking Events Are Not Quick.
I made the mistake of multi-booking on a networking event night, thinking I’d just pop in, see what was going on and duck out.
If that’s the approach, why did I bother anyway? I’m not going to have any meaningful interactions when I’m on a stopwatch. I’m focused on whatever Thing I am doing next, not on being present and meeting a cool entrepreneur, scientist, student, listening and learning. Then after ducking out, I felt guilty at the next Thing, that I should have stayed longer. Rewind and replay track titled “Not Present”.
Events are often not on time or on schedule. Speakers talk longer, guests are late, or the projector’s messed up. Commit to the Networking Event and do that other Thing some other day.
3. Networking Events Work.
If you let it. Be open to who you’ll meet or that person you dread seeing there. Tell your story, but listen to everyone else’s more intently. Have a goal. It can range from “Show up” to “Find a new client.”
So when’s your next one? I plan to enjoy the awkwardness at the next Chance Meeting, coordinated locally by Teton Regional Economic Coalition (TREC) on October 25th.