Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Night Club Networking?

Professional Meat Market Events?

I'm not that kind of gal...really! 

In a recent issue of the Washington Business Journal, guest blogger DerekCoburn refers to big networking events as “professional meat market events.” He compares the large, formal networking groups to the nightclub scene where one night stands are the "goal."

This was one of those articles I just couldn't relate to. Usually Derek writes really good stuff, but in this case he missed making me feel satisfied.

In short, he told me what is wrong but then gave me no answers. Frustrating for me - always on the look out for smart advice...

The article was right on target, and I agreed with Derek completely that large networking events can be like dating via nightclub. But his conclusion that we should “skip the big networking event and get creative” left me unsatisfied. I would have loved to have seen more specifics or maybe suggestions for some of these creative networking opportunities.

Effective networking is difficult and time consuming. I recently joined a networking group that meets formally every Wednesday at 7 a.m. I believe my fellow networking members are interested in long term relationships - even if it that relationship is based on who you know and who they know and so on. Business networking isn't about "a" sale. It's about being in a community of business people sharing ideas, trends, and, yes, contacts.

I learned a networking lesson when a visitor came to our group last week. The visitor was a woman who helps executives by coming to them and providing custom made clothing. My husband actually had a need for this kind of service. I announced to the group how glad I was to connect, and that I would be using her services. This was networking, right?

I missed the mark. One of the members of my group (my opposite of a one-night-stand business partner) told me that he has a network of thousands of contacts in almost any field. He assured me if I had a need for just about anything, he could refer me to someone that he knows AND KNOWS WELL. I could have asked him, and he would have had five referrals for me.

It was a good reminder to me the value of networking outside of selling. My network is a trove of information. I need to remember to work my group. Give me reason to hit that 7 a.m. meeting each week! No need to look outside yourself for networking, ask those you already have in your close network. That really is how networking pays off.

And, REMEMBER, if you need anything – and I MEAN ANYTHING – I know a guy who has a network of thousands of reliable resources. Really!

1 comment:

  1. Brenda,

    You hit the nail on the head. At every networking event that I attend (and as per Mario's recommendations) I make sure that I begin every introduction by listening to the other person first. I ask them how they found out about the event and why they chose to come. This allows them to open up and you can find out a lot more things in terms of their needs rather than attacking them with your sales pitch. You never know who can introduce you to someone else who can be a future alliance or prospective client.

    Great blog post!

    Isabella Fuentes