Who’s been there before?
Think of any networking event you’ve been to recently. You show up on time ready to go. You’re dressed nice, you’ve shaved, and you smell great. You’ve got your elevator pitch all ready. You are ready and willing to find out what the others here do and what they are passionate about…
Let’s get ready to NETWORK!!!
But then it starts. And you quickly realize this event is going to just exactly like the many you’ve been to before. A. Total. Waste. Of. Time.
Let me stop some of the comments now: I understand the importance of networking. I’ve networked on three continents. I’ve even paid money (too much money) to be a part of “the largest networking syndicate in Sydney, Australia”. I’ve put the time in (year after year) and now I can tell you with all sincerity that networking is not meant to work.
But why? Simple answer: the people. Putting strangers together in a room with no established trust is just simply a waste of time. For everyone. And no, a 1 minute diatribe about how great you are or how much you recently helped a customer or client does not build trust for strangers listening. Sure, off and on it may work and you find a new client, customer, or investor, but think of the hours spent for the gains gotten…
I’ve found through my travels there are three types of people at these events (I call them the 3 C’s):
The Collectors are only after business cards to fill their Rolodex and spam you as much as they can, in the very near future, solely to tell their boss how many people they have contacted or to feel good (i.e.: If I send out a thousand emails surely 10 people will sign up….) Watch out — these people are all over LinkedIn and other business professional sites as well.
The Clueless are there as sort of a Hail Mary pass looking to save their business or get an idea (from you) what they can be doing better. These are also the people who will waste hours and hours of your life after you meet them with coffees and lunches while they try and figure things out.
The Cocky are there just to brag to you about how great things are and how much they don’t really need to be there… I’ve found these are typically the real estate agents, the insurance salespeople, or other generic already established industries.
As always, I hate to bring problems without offering a solution… Here’s what I’ve figured out. Time is valuable and wasting it on extraneous engagements is counterproductive. If you are failing at networking I suggest you do what I’ve learned to do: be highly selective in who you allow to take up your time and quit wasting time on those who just want to bleed you for as much as they can get from you.
Sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Scott is an Army Special Forces veteran and former Program Manager with the US Department of Defense. He consults with international clients on leadership, strategy, team building, elite mindsets, and project management. He is a published author and has designed courses ranging from using body language to increase sales, personal computer security, and how to create an elite organization. You can find the courses at scottckinder.com