Before you get all defensive, I know plenty of people swear by the networking mixer as a great way to cast a wide net and meet a bunch of potential clients. As a general rule I don’t attend these types of events unless I have a purpose. Mingling by itself is not a purpose; I mean a defined (often quantifiable) objective.
What prompted this post?
I recently attended the worst networking mixer ever! I mean poor sound quality, multiple presenters just pitched and offered nothing of value, no traffic flow or structure within a huge lounge space, and… the attendees didn’t actually network.
I went to meet a friend (and future client), and we both wanted to learn more about the hosting organization. My friend and I actually had a great time together. Unfortunately I noticed something awkward about the rest of the people there. I thought I’d have a little fun and show him why I’m so “particular” about attending networking events and adamant about having clear objectives if I choose to attend.
We both sat back and observed everyone’s behavior, as a social experiment of sorts. Then, I would go up to people and intentionally not offer my name or biz, but start a conversation with a “What’s your name?” or a “What do you do?” – and would you believe not a single person reciprocated? Yes, it was that bad!
To make matters worse, my friend knew several people there and they all failed my test as well. Needless to say, he was stunned! But now he understands why I’m so strategic in spending my time and resources as I build my business. Running around to go to a bunch of events for the sake of going is simply not an option for most small business owners, a lesson he clearly understood after this experiment.
I never did find any movers and shakers there to talk business.
On the flip side, I attended an unrelated mixer a couple of weeks later because I wanted to meet and get to know a particular person that I chatted with a couple of months ago online.
I had a fantastic and productive time at this mixer! Not only did I meet this person, but the attendees were engaging, lively, and prepared to socialize and talk business. Of course there were a couple of duds, but I was thoroughly impressed by the quality of the interactions all around me.
Today’s Lesson: Do not attend a networking mixer without a clear objective. The challenge with networking mixers is that so many people go to say they’re pulling long hours, working so hard to meet prospects and trying to make sales. In reality, they’re going to have hors d’oeuvres and cocktails!
What are your thoughts on this often-used activity? How have you benefited from attending networking mixers? Are you intimidated by networking events? Post a question or comment and share your experiences!