How to choose a regular business networking event

A useful, regular networking event is likely to cost you both an admission fee to each event and a membership fee to belong to the organisation.  Here are some questions to ask yourself and the organisers of any events you find.

1  How well is it organised? 

This article [how to run an event] explains what a good networking event looks like.  So, when you find an event, it’s worth asking the organiser about any omissions from this list.

2  How can I help the people who attend the event?  Am I prepared to do that?

This may appear counterintuitive—and may be too much for some people to stomach—but, in truth, you cannot expect anyone to do anything that you’re not prepared to do yourself.   If you wait until someone else has helped you before you help them, you may be waiting a long time.

Doing fee earning work may put bread on the table today or tomorrow.  Going to networking events puts bread on the table next month, next year.

Having an attitude of “I am only going help those who help me first” will be subconsciously picked up by other people (at least, by some other people) and will be interpreted by them as a demand (which, of course, it is).  You will get a “reputation”.  There is a neutral position where you’re willing to help when asked.

But I suggest you just go for it and proactively find out how you could help others in the group.

Everyone you help will certainly be out to help you back and your reputation will be entirely different;  it will be one that positively encourages other members of the group to seek you out.

So, you also need to be honest with yourself about how much you are willing to help others.  And then you do need to do it.  Running a “scarcity model” does you no good.

3  Does the event attract people who can help me?

Whilst going to a networking event solely for altruistic purposes is a wholly defensible approach, it is unlikely to help your business much, so you do need to research who the regular attenders are.  Organisers who intend to take money off you before you attend any actual events will let you go to a couple before you join.

4  Can I commit to it over a reasonable period of time?  Can my business afford it?

The amounts of time and money you have to devote to this are important.  It doesn’t help others if your attendance is only intermittent, any more than it helps you when other members don’t give these meetings a high enough priority.  There are plenty of people who think that networking events are only worth going to if they have nothing better to.  This attitude is to be deplored.

There is nothing better that you can do for your business than secure its future.  Doing fee earning work may put bread on the table today (or tomorrow, when the invoice is paid).  Going to networking events puts bread on the table next month, next year.

by Jeremy Marchant, edited 30 april 2019
© 2019 Jeremy Marchant Limited . image: Free images

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