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Networking Events – Love ‘em or Hate ‘em?

Yesterday afternoon/evening, I attended the Speed Networking Event yesterday at the Staybridge Suites at Sunset Station in Downtown San Antonio. This was a Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce event for business people to meet and talk about what they do.

The pace was fast and exciting.  The people were effusive and interesting – from the attendees to the Chamber staff to the hotel staff.  Everyone can pat themselves on the back for a nicely executed event.

One thing that surprised me about the event was the lack of direct competition. There was very little overlap in the services and products represented by the attendees.  The lack of duplicity emphasized the diversity we have in our small business community. There are so many unique niches, there is room for everyone at the table in the business world.

I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did.

In the coming days, I will review the business cards I received and will look for ways to refer business or do business with each person I met.

This event got me to thinking about what we are thinking and feeling when we are going out to such events promoting our businesses or ourselves.

Sometimes before an event, I will feel uncertain about going or apprehensive – and I like meeting people! In our daily lives there is much similarity and shared experience; if I am feeling it, it has been felt a thousand times before. You have probably felt the same way at some point in the past.

If so, here are three quick tips on making the whole session less anxiety-provoking than it needs to be.

  1. Understand what your reason is for wanting to attend. Are you going because you are trying to meet new people, trying to get new business or going through the motions? Whenever attending an event like this, I always remind myself that I am there to meet like-minded people who are experiencing the same victories and struggles I am. If we can do business, great. If not, then I have met someone to whom I can refer business in the future. Also, next time I attend an event, someone I met at a previous event becomes a familiar face in a room full of strangers.
  2. If you are there to generate sales, then be willing to give of yourself to earn the right to have the sales conversation. Provide information, a reference, an introduction or a resource for additional insight. If making a sale is akin to reaping a harvest, remember that this is the seed planting stage.
  3. Have fun! These things are meant to be fun, so have some! If you are uncomfortable in social situations, imagine you are in a group of friends, but they have stepped out of the room for a moment and left you with their guests. OR, think of something you hate doing and realize how much more fun this event is than doing the thing you hate.

Time for me to contact some new business friends…

Looking forward to the next one,
Clint