I was at a networking event recently with well over two hundred other business people. About half way through the evening there was a speaker. He asked us all a question. ‘How many of you are here this evening with something to sell?’ Just about every hand went up. He then asked us another question. ‘How many of you are here to buy something?’ For the second time my hand didn’t move, but what was more to the point, only a few hands went up. The speaker then said, ‘Well you are all pretty much stuffed then aren’t you!’ Everyone laughed, but he had made his point!
So, what’s the point of networking?
Well, it’s certainly not to sell. If you think about it logically, what are the chances of someone you don’t know, wanting to buy what you are selling, just at that exact moment? Answer: just about zero.
There is only one reason to go networking and only one. Forget collecting business cards, eating great food, or not so great food, and having a glass of wine.
Networking is all about the beginning of a relationship. Finding people that are also interested in exploring the possibilities of a future relationship and who are happy to meet at a later date for a coffee. That’s it! Nothing more.
So, forget all of your sales brochures and samples, and instead find out who is at the networking event, who may be a good contact for you, and how you in turn may be a good contact for them. Locate them, introduce yourself politely, ask lots about them, ask interesting questions, listen intently and see if they would like to meet another time.
I promise you, you will soon have a diary of appointments, and not just a desk piled high with soon forgotten business cards.