Remember, navigating the “lunch, munch and brunch scene” doesn’t have to be an unrewarding marathon. Attend those events where you have a real interest in supporting the group/event or feel you can benefit personally or professionally from the time spent. After many years on the “lunch, munch and brunch circuit,” I have created the following rules for myself to help decide how to spend my time effectively in networking. I hope you will find them helpful in managing your networking time:
Assess the group before you assess the event. Is this a group that can provide meaningful sales leads? Can it help you and your company improve the way you do business? Can it provide resources to help your clients? Is it a group which gets things done & has an impact in its mission? Does it provide a benefit to the community, you individually, or your company or clients? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, then don’t waste your time.
Decide on Your Time. Assuming you have answered yes to one or more of the questions about the group itself, now look at the event you’re considering. First and foremost- is it at a convenient time for you? Nothing is more important than you and you always need to keep your needs as a priority. No amount of networking will provide benefit if you’re overstressed, overwhelmed or unable to focus.
Will the event advance a personal or business interest? Will it advance your position in the group or with the attendees? Don’t just think about short-term benefits – think about the long-term value. As all veteran networkers know, networking is not short-term. It’s about relationships--and it takes lots of time and energy invested over a long period to build those relationships. You don’t want to be known as someone who takes and runs, you should also be finding a way to give back.
Once at an event, maximize your time there. Make sure to network with people you don’t know in addition to your friends. Wear a nametag (with big letters- (we’re all aging with sight challenges). Wear the nametag on your right shoulder. When someone goes to shake your hand, his/her line of sight automatically goes there. Have plenty of business cards. Stand in the bar or food lines and strike up a conversation with people near you. If you have the opportunity to speak or in other ways be the center of attention, take it…you can’t sell to people or receive resources from them if they don’t know you.
Ultimately, successful networking is productive and you will be more productive if you have fun while you work! -Roz Goldmacher, guest blogger