During the course of my career I have attended hundreds of events where professionals and business people could network. More recently, since I went freelance in 2006, I have also attended many more generic and local business networking events. These are very different and are more likely to attract some inexperienced networkers whose prime objective is to promote and sell their service or product. Yuck!
I have also attended many other less obvious networking events such as:
– Receptions to launch a new product or service;
– Parties to celebrate a business anniversary, someone’s promotion or the fact that they have recently joined the organisation;
– Summer, Christmas or other seasonal excuses for a party.
In most cases the guest lists include dozens and sometimes hundreds of business associates, clients, prospective clients, other professionals and potential referrers.
All too often the organisers are not clear as to what they want to achieve by hosting the event. The most common ‘reason’ seems to be either to ‘thank’ clients for their custom, to showcase new staff and services or merely to hope that by hosting such an event, more work and clients will, at some later stage, consequently be referred to the host organisation.
The professionals attending such events also often seem unclear as to their own objectives. Invariably there will be dozens of accountants, lawyers, bankers and others professionals present – all milling around chatting to people they already knew. There is also often a large sub-set of attendees who are evidently uncomfortable with the idea of talking to strangers. And I can always spot those who evidently promised to put in an appearance but leave early to go home or somewhere else they will feel more comfortable.
Many people who struggle with networking misunderstand what it’s really about. As a result they are uncomfortable talking to anyone new at networking events. This is such a shame and can lead to resentment, wasted time and wasted opportunities. At it’s simplest, networking simply means finding and getting to know other business people whom you could help and who could help you. This generally only happens after you have developed some rapport; hence the idea of getting to know, like and trust each other.
Over the years I have researched, collated and shared much information on the subject of networking. By all accounts it is something I do successfully. Even when I was in practice I regularly taught and mentored colleagues to help them and the firm to gain more benefit from their networking activities. Since 2006 this has also been a regular topic in my talks, blogs, articles and masterclasses.
Many authors and speakers on ‘Networking’ seem to focus on what to do at events that are publicised as being specifically arranged to permit small businesses to network with each other. My approach is more focused on helping acountants to network effectively in a business context.
If you would like to discuss how I could supercharge the networking abilities of your team, do get in touch.