In the world of business networking, it seems that “the more the merrier” has become the mantra of the day. I know the thinking and it goes something like this: The more people at the event, the more likely it is that you will meet someone who is “good” for you and vice versa.
Mmmm. Makes sense, but is this what really happens? Sure, hanging out in a bar or restaurant, drink in one hand and cards in another, can be (sort of) fun. But we all know that it’s the follow-up with these fellow networkers that builds the trust and ensuing business relationship that, in fact, can foster introductions and potential clients. And here’s the sad truth: Lots of people, even those who fancy themselves good networkers, do little, if any, of that all-important following up. Sure, they gather cards, but once the event is over, it’s back to business, and the time to plant those networking seeds never seems to come.
Sow the Seeds
Now, my preference is a dinner where there are six, eight or even 10 networkers around the table, each taking several minutes to describe what they do and whom they do it for, with ample time left over for questions and discussion. The networking seeds that are sown at this type of event are deeper and yield much more substantive returns on the time invested. And yes, follow-up is still required, but because so much more transpired at the event itself, the relationship building is faster and more substantive as well.
There’s room for both types of networking and people surely have their preference, but I’d much prefer an intimate dinner anytime. I’ve given up on juggling the drink and the cards, all the while shouting over the sounds of a noisy room. But, to each their own…