"Oh God. Another networking event. How can I squirm out of this one? Is a child going to be sick? Maybe a water pipe might burst?"
These are always my thoughts before having to drag my tired carcass to a networking event. It's fair to say - I'm not keen.
I don't know if this is because I don't like entering a room and introducing myself to strangers. But then if I do go with someone else, I end up hiding behind them and not saying much and looking like a bit of a buffoon. It's all very embarrassing and sweat-inducing.
Last time I went to a networking event in the evening a waiter ended up stuffing a whole prawn with a big chunk of chorizo into my mouth. I mean - What The Actual F? Not to mention the fact that I'd usually steer well clear of seafood on a buffet for the OCD food poisoning reason: you just don't know who's fingered that prawn. Anyway, I digress.
My other gripe about networking events is when those arrogant individuals thrust a business card at you. I've had this before right at the end of an event - he'd run out of time and was spraying his cards at everyone who had hands.
It all comes down to desperation. And you'll be able to smell it from a mile away. It's like you've opened the door to an evening full of cold calls. Maybe this is why I don't like networking events!
I'm always on the lookout for my next Best Future Client (BFC) - I'm just not sure if they are going to show up at a networking event.
The optimum time to network is when you really don't need to. I think you should look at networking as a time to give something back to the business world. When you don't have an agenda to push, you can listen to others and find out more about their problems and see if you have anyone in your network that can help them out.
But saying that, when has anyone ever networked when they really didn't need to!
Would you be better spending your time doing something else to generate leads? And is your BFC going to be located in such a small geographical area. You never know - you might get lucky!
GET A PLAN
Here's the thing. You need a plan. Don't be a bumbling idiot like me - it's just embarrassing!
Insert your bits here:
Hello, I’m ____name_____here____, a _______job____title______here____, who helps ______what____sector____or_____industry_____ with ____achieving_____which____goals.
This is what mine looks like:
Hello, I’m Holly Smith-Williams, a business growth strategist and content creator, who helps consultative businesses find and nurture new clients through a process that boosts brand awareness, grows business and increases revenue.
Get that rehearsed (or write it on your hand) before your next networking event and you should be off to a flying start!
But instead of kicking it old school, you need to start digital networking!