Networking events

by Admin
Updated: June 24, 2018

Four types of people attend networking events but only one type uses them effectively

In-person networking events have been a traditional requirement for all ambitious go-getters. Especially, breakfasts. Especially if they’re super early. Especially, if you were partying the night before. Because you are a rock star!

Business networking can be a fantastic source of new customers & income or it can be a waste of time.

There are four types of people at these events:

  1. Desperados
  2. Non-participants
  3. Social butterflies
  4. Business-to-business

The social butterflies can do OK but it’s the business-to-business type who really thrive.

#1 - Desperados

These are usually the naive newcomers who think the meeting is for them to sell to everyone else. If they are not selling, they aren’t trying hard enough. They can ruin a group by being so annoying they cut into everyone’s enthusiasm for showing up.

#2 - Non-participants

They are too shy to participate. Their 60-second commercial is painful - feels like it’s 60 minutes. They leave immediately after the formal part of the meeting is over. Why are they there? Education?

My experience suggests going to a meeting is easier than facing the harsh realities of what needs to be done in order to succeed.

#3 - Social butterflies

We love them. They are the main characters of the event. Charming, interesting and friendly. They enjoy the social interactivity, but don’t make any deals or sell anything. When you become comfortable at business networking events it’s easy to fall into this category because it’s a comfort zone - everyone is happy to talk to you because, while they’re doing so, they’re not under pressure to do any actual business.

Residential real estate agents, car dealers, landscape gardeners etc. - products & services that relate to private individuals - can do OK as a result of increased exposure. We get to know them, feel like we can trust them and maybe buy from them or recommend them when the need arises.

I’ve met good people who became good friends through some of these meetings. Occasionally, this led to business being done. My point is that it’s very indirect and no better than other indirect methods. The problem is that when you’re developing business relationships socially, it’s easy to focus on the relationships and lose sight of the business.

#4 - Business-to-business

We go to business networking meetings because we are in business and want to grow. Products & services that relate to businesses are what we are all about and anyone that recognizes that and meets the need will be in a room full of potential customers who want to meet them - no hard selling required.

Those who are especially effective stack individual appeal on top:

Example: Commercial real estate - offices, workshops, storage - does well because it’s relevant to almost any type of business. Agents who also do residential, will occasionally sell a house too.

During the time I used to attend business networking meetings, there were many residential real estate agents and, while they would claim it was worthwhile for the referrals, selling a house as a direct result of being in the group was rare. The commercial guys on the other hand were always dealing.

Example: Photography. High quality headshots are something almost every business professional needs (a direct sell). Commercial photography is something almost every business can benefit from (direct sell if business owner, otherwise a lead). Wedding photography earns big bucks.

A friend of mine did exactly this. I estimate our weekly breakfast meeting was worth an average of $1,000 to him.

Example: Professional/Tech services. All businesses need more or less help with things like computers, accounting, legal etc. Generally, all these things extend to individuals too although the most profitable work usually remains with the commercial side.

I ran an IT consultancy specializing in websites for small businesses and, on average, each networking meeting paid me $272.

Are networking events right for you?

  1. You don’t know until you try - at least go to one.
  2. Define your objectives
  3. Track your success rate

I have had some success at networking meetings when my business could sell directly to the other attendees. I’ve since found - with experience and/or an already established network - that various direct strategies are much more profitable. But it’s only possible to know this if you track your performance so, if/when you next go networking, find a way to quantify it.

Unfortunately, at most networking events, I’ve found that most people are only looking up the ladder. They want to be near successful people in the hopes that a) success will rub off on them and b) they can make some sales. If you appear successful, they want you to buy from them and if you don’t then they won’t be interested in you. The reality is, there aren’t many truly successful people there.

Running your own networking events

Running your own networking events can be more or less beneficial depending on what your goals are. The key is to realize you are now running a business where all the attendees are your customers and all the normal rules of business apply.

More info

BNI are one of the largest resources for business networking events and meetup.com has networking events of all kinds.

Social media such as LinkedIn and Facebook can be sources of groups and events.

The Harvard Business Review has “Don’t Waste Your Time on Networking Events” in regard to traditional networking events.

millennialeb.com has “The Epic Guide To Planning A Networking Event” based on first-hand experience.

Internal links

Customer Lifetime Value The graph of success Rocket science Go to Articles
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