Get offline. Go and network in real life!

Do you look like this about networking?.

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.

Ug. Networking.

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.

And that ain’t you.

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. 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?


10 Responses

  1. I have all good intentions of going to networking events, but usually end up with so much work on the day I can’t afford to spare the time to go. It is a shame, as I do enjoy getting out and meeting new people and have made some good friends through business networking events.

    There is nothing worse than someone who pushes their business card in your face at these events. Even had one at the last Business After Hours I attended who went round the room interrupting conversations to talk about her “wonderful” business and give everyone a card. I have a nice little tin I keep all the business cards I’ve collected in… that one ended up straight in the bin!

  2. Love your point about stars having to align! So true. Networking is definitely about relationship-building. It takes time, but it’s 100% worth it. That’s where I find 100% of my clients…

    1. Thanks for commenting Lindsay!

      While I get most of my business through word of mouth, so networking helps me foster groups of people who know me, trust me and happily refer me on to their network. And that’s GOLD.

      I also love to use and refer the people I’ve got to know from regular networking. Rather than shopping around, I go straight to them … and I know that flows both ways.

      Cementing relationships with face-to-face contact can really short cut the process… don’t you think?

  3. I think people also think of you later if you’ve presented yourself well at a networking event – if you’re badly behaved or pushy they’ll remember NOT to call you or refer you to somebody so being as natural as you can is to your benefit! I’m new to the game so it’s about making connections for me which will hopefully pay off in the long run….

    1. Absolutely Shauna. And I think having a long term view of networking is deifnitely the right approach.

      It can take some time to find the right type of group, and it’s good to try and a few.

      Thanks for commenting and good luck with your efforts!

  4. I too am a big fan of business networking, especially the informal style catch ups where you see the same people regularly. It’s great to be able to discuss business related issues and topics with like minded people.

  5. Great post Belinda. I’m curious… where do you find networking events to attend. And how do you decide which ones are worth your time?

  6. OH my goodness: “…too early for me to be humaning with other humans “. LOVE IT! (And those step-right-up-and-buy-your-friends venues are creepy. Been there. Done that. Refused the T-shirt.)

    I have stopped attending the 200-people-in-the-room events. Very loud waste of time unless you’re a glad hander (IMHO).

    With two monthly meetings specifically for freelancers and the local chamber on my agenda, I get two things: (a) walking into rooms where I DO know someone, and (b) having them introduce me to others.

    It works, and yes … it’s about relationships.

    And that takes time.

    1. I agree Kathie. Those are exactly the kind of networking events I avoid as well. Especially when they are sit down events. I’ll go for the presentation, not the networking! Smaller events are definitely more my style.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

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