So I have signed up for another "Networking" event, but I'm not sure what to expect this time around. Why is that? Well, perhaps it’s the previous experience where I attended the "network" event that wasn't...I believe we have all had this experience?

Some of my most recent experiences attending networking events have been mixed. There does seem to be the handful that are open and ready to meet - meaning holding back any judgement calls and actually want to meet you and learn about what you do and offer. Sadly, they haven't been the majority of the attendees. The best example of this was a visibly Senior Professional; in a nice suit with a head to toe manicured appearance in the group of individuals I was introducing myself too. I was sharing information about an event I had volunteered to facilitate, indicating the value I saw in the event as I wasn’t charging for my time. As I am explaining the event, all but one individual was willing to hear me out. How could I tell? Well, the general body language was, “leaning in to hear as it was a loud environment, nodding of the heads throughout my explanation, and the pretty steady eye contact”; I received from all but one. Guess who? Yes, that’s right Mr. Senior Professional clearly thought my event “lacked lustre”. How could I tell, how about the head and eye roll away – yes completely in the other direction of the group. Sadly, this refined professional needs to work on his etiquette.

Now I am not foolish enough to believe the event was going to interest everyone, I myself have been in network groups listening to and learning about event that I knew pretty early into the explanation that it wasn’t up my alley. However, I gave the speaker respect and listened, even asked some questions to ensure my interpretation of what they said was correct. Then before I would move along, I thanked them for the information, but let them know that it wasn’t something I was interested in at this time.

When I think of a network event what comes to mind is a venue where you can meet peers and colleagues across different industries, and levels of experience, you can learn about their business and services and share info on yours. You connect with those whose wave length matches yours - swap the business cards and follow up on opportunities! For those you don’t share the same concepts with, you respect them and nicely let them know you’re not looking for those services. But be careful not to close the door, why? Because you have no idea whose network they belong to and just how much your paths might cross again in life and in business.

In my world the 3 Steps to Successful Networking are
1) Be Open, Be Respectful
2) Ask Questions and Aim to gain understanding
3) Follow Up and Build Your Connections

Am I out to lunch here? Do I have an idealistic concept of what a networking event should be or has to offer?

Views: 69

Comment by Rebecca B. Sargeant on October 6, 2010 at 4:06pm
Lisa you are The Master Networker!

Too many people approach networking as "What can you do for me??" This approach will get you NO WHERE FAST. I really like the way you keep networking to 3 simple steps. You approach in right on the nose. In my experience if you are genuinely curious about someone and truly want to assist them in getting ahead they will always be available to assist you when the opportunity presents itself.

You will never go wrong with the "Pay it forward" model.

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