By Bob Salvas
I often give live business seminars and when I do, I try to go around the room and give the attendees the opportunity to
introduce themselves. As a presenter, it is always good to know who is in the room to make a session more relevant. But it
is also important for the audience to know who the other attendees are. There may be breaks or time afterwards for the
people in the room to connect. Good networking does not only happen at networking events.
In fact, sometimes the best networking takes place where you do not plan for it. If you are at some sort of event or gathering,
you probably have a shared interest with the other attendees. This can make it easier to talk to people than it would be to
approach strangers at a networking event.
With things like common interests and goals, you may not even feel the NEED to network, but networking still happens on its
own! Part of the reason for this is that there is nothing more powerful than face-to-face personal contact. As marketing guru
and author Dan Kennedy once said, “There is no substitute for getting people together in a room.”
Today we live with the technology of Zoom and Skype and Facetime and Google Hangouts. Yet big business owners and sales
people are still flying all over the country and the world daily with the goal of getting face-to-face with an individual or group.
Trust me those businesses would not spend that kind of time and money if it was not worth it. As good as the technology for
virtual meetings is, it cannot replace being physically present with other people.
This idea of being physically present is also what makes in-person networking such a successful strategy for the local business
community. Find events that are a good fit and take the time to regularly attend them while still leaving time in your schedule
to do the all-important follow up work.
Beyond the networking events you attend, you should also consider going to other things. Does your industry have a regional
conference? Are there some live seminars being offered in your area about topics you are interested in or want to stay up on?
Is there a local charity or cause you care about that you want to lend a hand to and donate time instead of money?
I have heard countless stories of people connecting with important people at events other than networking events. You might be
swinging a hammer next to the president of a company at a charity event. If you both truly care about the cause you are working
for, that shared interest can lead to conversation and trust and ultimately to business. You cannot force these things, but you
will be amazed by how easily and often they happen.
Lastly, if you can, you should host or put on some events of your own. You could do a networking event, but you could do other
things as well. You might want to have an event for your employees or an event for your current customers. Some of the best
events I have ever been to have not always been perfect venues or great food, but the organizers of those events always left time
in the agenda for people to connect and talk with each other and THAT is where the real value was. If you are the host, you will
get the appreciation of those who attended and who knows, you might even have a few important conversations there yourself!
So, go to those networking events; go to some non-networking events; and, if possible, host some events yourself. You will be
amazed by what these face-to-face opportunities will do for others and for you.
There will certainly be times when we do not FEEL like going to events. The couch can be very comfortable especially after a long
day or if the weather is bad. But the way to success is to engage-get up and get out. Remember…
“80 percent of success is just showing up” —Woody Allen