I have a confession to make which may surprise people who know me; I hate networking events. Because I have a good network, people assume I enjoy working the room and networking. I would say that I have a good network exactly because I don’t work the room or network the way I think you are supposed to.
Going to any event labelled as a network event is bound to spell trouble. You tend to meet people who think the name of the game is to give out as many business cards out as possible during the evening. And god, please spare me from the person who has practiced his personal elevator pitch. (You may say I am to blame as I am continuously promoting the elevator pitch – but only for companies not people is my reply to you!)
I like to build relationships with people – not just claim to know lots of people. In fact I have a pet hate when it comes to people claiming that they know lots of people. I would only say that I know someone if I can ring them on their mobile number and they answer the phone by saying “Hello Permjot” – that is that my number is on their mobile. I have learnt that it is not about knowing people but having a degree of influence over people. Networking events simply do not allow meaningful interaction to take place.
So if you are going to go to an event here are my golden tips
1) Make sure that there is a theme. This means that it is relevant to you and what you want to achieve. So EISA events tend to be very good as they only attract people who have an interest in investing in companies in a tax efficient manner
2) Have a ‘sponsor’ at the event. For example make sure that someone will take on the role of introducing you to the relevant people that you need to meet. I am asked in training sessions I run, to advise on how to meet and greet – the reality is this is very difficult to do. Having a sponsor makes it easier for you to be focused
3) Listen more than you talk. You will get a lot more out of your conversations if you understand what someone else wants.
4) Run a Google search on people at the event. The internet has made it so easy to do a five minute search on people. I am amazed at how many people meet me without knowing anything about me at all – it is all there and you will know how to pitch to me and what I do and don’t like
5) Be sparing with your business card. Make people work for it. If you are selling to someone else – earn the right to ask for their card. I never give my card to someone who simply asks for it as soon as I have met them
6) Agree there and then how you are going to contact someone again next
7) Make sure you follow up. This is the best piece of advice I can give
Enjoy! If you are not enjoying it – leave! Seriously, people will sense that you are not at ease and will not want to get bogged down talking to you!