That sweaty feeling of peeking into a room of strangers.
Everyone is already chatting (because now, I’m late). Name tags are on and drinks are in hands.
It’s got form. Being stuck with a bore who doesn’t stop for breath. Being passed over by the lead generator who evaluates you and leaves you for someone more promising of a sale. Hiding in the toilets because you just forgot everyone’s name.
The business cards you toss into a drawer as soon as you get home.
Not to mention trying to awkwardly start conversations.
Did I leave home for this?
No one really likes business networking events.
But they are worth making time for.
SEO is fab but after you’ve reached the lofty heights of page 1 you realise that all those new leads you’re getting… are mostly tire kickers looking for the cheapest copywriter.
Throughout the development of Copywrite Matters, I have worked at improving my ranking but I’ve invested more in building relationships. Online and offline.
Online business networking is safe and comfortable, and the commute is negligible.
In person networking events take more effort but the rewards are there.
1. Networking gets me out of my office cave
One of the main reasons I make time for face-to-face networking is to get out of my office. Sure, I do a lot of online networking but in my kind of work, it’s all too easy to have days and weeks pass by without making an effort to have a conversation with someone I don’t know (who doesn’t know me).
The social interaction keeps me (mostly) sane.
And talking gooder with people is a bloody good life skill to keep sharp.
2. Networking lets me practise my elevator pitch
Everyone should have a succinct way to talk about what they do. You’ve probably been through the exercise of writing your elevator pitch but how often do you actually practise it? And not just practise it in your head but make it seem like a natural response to the question, “So, what do you do?”
Making your sound bite summary seem like anything but a pitch takes practice and meeting new people, as often as possible, lets me do just that.
3. Networking brings me business
I put this one last as it’s really just a perk for me. I don’t go into networking events with the expectation of walking out with clients. I know some people do and you can tell by the way they talk to you. They size you up and work out your potential “value” before excusing themselves to “work the room”.
Business networking is an investment, not a QuickPick
Networking is all about building relationships. You rarely get business after meeting someone for 10 minutes. It happens but a lot of stars have to align! Great business leads come after relationships are built and that generally happens after you’ve met someone a few times.
Some people approach business networking as an opportunity to spray their business cards around with the hope that someone will need them. The same people usually collect a lot of business cards and pop everyone straight into a database, signing their new contacts up for their newsletter along the way.
They aren’t the kind of people I like to meet and that’s not my idea of networking.
Find your people
I like networking events in pubs because I can 1) relax a little more after a drink (don’t judge me) and 2) they tend to attract business owners who are a little more chilled.
Early morning events are a bit too intense. Firstly, waaaay too early for me to be humaning with other humans and 2) they also attract morning people.
Whether you’re a BNI kind of networker or a drinks-in-the pub kind of networker, be prepared to try a few groups before you find your people. Meetup.com can be a great place to find local groups.
Invest some time in face-to-face events. Make your intros smooth and practise your name-recall skills. Get some leads. It’s worth it.
I’d love to know how much time you make for networking. Is it regular or random? What do you look for in a networking event?