I often times coach beginning business owners who have a calendar filled with different networking events. After a while they are exhausted and find themselves complaining over what a waste of time some of the events were.
At times it can seem like networking events are like a crapshoot. You might get lucky and find a good one, but there are also a lot of really terrible ones. There are also some that end up having no business value to you at all.
The key is to determine which networking events – whether it’s a meetup or a conference – are worth going to. This allows you to become more strategic without spinning your wheels or becoming exhausted.
Go to events where your clients hang out.
If you’re attending networking events to make more money, the easiest thing to do is to find events where your clients hang out. For example, I’m working on a big online financial challenge for millennials so I will be attending (and speaking at) a conference for millennial women in June.
I have a pretty large participant goal I want to reach, so by going to an event filled to the brim with my market I’ll be able to more easily meet that goal.
If, on the other hand, I went to an event filled with coaches or writers it would only seem like a complete waste of time for this particular project.
Go to events where you actually learn something.
Networking events where you can actually learn something are also fantastic for boosting your business.
For example, I’ve learned to stop going to most local blogger events because the content is usually geared toward beginners. I don’t learn much and end up bored.
On the other hand, I attend The Financial Blogger Conference every single year because I know there is something I can learn and implement .
Know what you want.
Not all networking events are created equal. Some are meant to teach you something, some are meant to help get leads and others are geared toward more of a retreat vibe.
Later this year I’ll be going to a business event in Bali. I’m not expecting to meet clients there, I’m expecting to relax in a beautiful country and work on my own personal development.
This is a big difference from the event I’ll be attending in June which is soley about finding participants for a project I’m working on.
It’s important that you know exactly what kind of event you want to attend, what the purpose is for your business (or for you) and what to expect. This will help you choose events more strategically and you’ll avoid wasting time on the duds.
Sometimes the only way to find good networking events is to go and experiment. The reality is some events may actually surprise you.
For example, I recently got invited to a dinner being hosted by a large Fortune 500 company for an initiative they are working on in major cities across the U.S. I really just went for a free dinner and didn’t expect much out of it business wise.
To my surprise, I walked out of there with potential sponsorship leads and with a local contact who is now having me put on a local personal finance workshop.
As you gain more experience in your business you’ll know which networking events are worth going to and which ones you should skip. In the meantime, use some of these tips to help you get strategic with your networking game.