Much is said about networking events and opinions are pretty polarised around the following question: is there a need for networking events? No matter which side of the barricade you stand, there are 4 myths about networking events that need to be debunked.
1. At networking events, you need to connect with as many people as possible
Nope. You don’t have to do that. Forget about this ‘shark’ strategy: networking events alone are not your ticket for landing a job or finding a bunch of new customers. The event is meant as a springboard to start building a business relationship with someone. You don’t have to chat with everyone in the room: begin by spotting someone you would feel at ease talking to.
If you manage to speak to 3-4 people, you’ll have done a marvellous job. It’s quality over quantity. The chosen few will become part of your network; with time, those relationships can become mutually beneficial but they need to be built on trust, and that’s something you cannot achieve in one evening. That’s what effective networking is all about.
2. Networking events are challenging for introverts
While it is true that as an extrovert it is easier to chat to strangers, it is also true that extroverts might talk too much. And not ask the right questions because they are too busy talking about themselves.
Introverts instead tend to listen rather than talk, and that is a significant advantage at networking events. The bottom line is, you want to find out as much as possible about the counterpart. What better way than asking open-ended questions and listen to the answers? Ideally, it would be best to let the other person talk for 80% of the time, but since the person you are talking to might also be interested in knowing more about you, try to find a reasonable balance that you feel comfortable with.
3. Networking events are a loss of time
Well: 7 out of 10 jobs are found through networking. (Source: ibusinessblog.co.uk). It is clear that not all networking events will be successful, but if you manage to get into an honest and enriching conversation with someone, that’s worth much more than sitting at home and typing yet another job application or looking for investors online or calling potential clients.
People do enjoy meeting face to face. It’s the only way to create a real connection with others quickly. Trust your instincts, take part in networking events and genuinely enjoy the dialogue. The rest will follow.
4. No need to follow up unless you need something
Wrong. And yet, it happens so often. After a month from meeting someone, you suddenly get a phone call by someone whom you can hardly remember. A business relationship is like a plant: it needs to be nurtured. You don’t want to feel used, and you don’t want others to feel that way.
Therefore, if you find someone you get along with and whose interests are in line with yours, keep up the conversation, contact him or her in the following days and drop an email now and then: nurture the relationship.