Networking events are not for making sales pitches and closing deals. They are for meeting and connecting with other people. Sometimes you meet some really great prospects, but as most networking events are put on by an industry organization; you meet a lot of your competition – or at least people who already believe, support, and/or represent ideas similar to you. It is kind-of like a night at a karaoke club where everyone is waiting for their moment on stage.
There are a few fundamental flaws with this situation:
The song before you might be a classic sing-along; like Billy Joel’s Piano Man. Or it could be a touching beer-laden version of Carrie Underwood’s hit about taking vengeance on a cheating man. Neither are the best set-up for your well-rehearsed, interpretive version of Jackson 5’s ABC 123. No matter how great each vocal performance is; it is hard to work the crowd into the necessary frenzy with just 1 song that – even though it might be YOUR favorite – they might not particularly want to hear.
At networking events, your message is often lost in the mix of everyone else’s – even if it is particularly clever or catchy.
Intent Of Crowd:
The biggest reason people go to karaoke clubs is to DO karaoke. Almost the entire audience consists of performers. Though they respect and support other performers, they are not in the club to hear YOU. And it’s a pretty safe bet that talent scouts for record labels are not hanging out at your favorite karaoke club.
In most networking events, the focus is on something else – the trade show booths; the great speaker sponsored by the chamber of commerce; happy hour drink specials; etc. The intent of the crowd is not primed for closing deals.
Luck Of The Draw:
Even though you have submitted your song; you never really know when you get your chance to shine. Anticipating there will be a wait; you might even make 2-3 submissions. In between your songs; you might be able to appreciate other performers; but staying relatively primed for your own performance dampens that appreciation.
In my years of business; I have heard enough people tell me how much they dislike networking, and meeting new people in this format. It tells me that they are likely more focused on their fears and internal dialogue than on things I (or anyone else) have to say.
Networking is a combination of business and social settings. Events and groups are a great ways to meet and learn more about people and the businesses they represent. The only ‘deals’ that should be ‘closed’ are additional meetings to explore potential opportunities.
Making quality connections is about having a discussion about relevant things that matter to both parties. While it is important to network with a game plan and know whom you want to meet, who they know, and how to get a quality introduction. These introductions only happen after you establish trust and value. Great ways to establish trust and value include: asking engaging questions, and listening to their answers.
Here is a reference to one of my first articles about networking nearly 2 years ago that is still relevant. Experts in Networking