I don’t like networking events

I don’t really like networking events. To be honest, I have been struggling with this over the past several months because no matter what I do it seems that networking has become, and is becoming, a bigger part of my life. I write about networking, speak about networking, coach others on networking, I founded a massively successful commercial network, I have even been a conference keynote speaker presenting on the topic of networking! So how is it then do I not like networking events?

I’m normal. That’s right; most people do not like attending networking events. According to Susan RoAne (Author of Face to Face) 93% of people self identify themselves as “shy,” and networking events are not a happy place for a shy person to be. I have finally come to the conclusion that the reason I have been successful speaking, writing, and building networks is that so many people struggle with the same things I struggled with. I had to work hard to figure out how to succeed at networking by building great friendships (something that anyone can do even without attending networking events). As a result it is really easy for me to explain to other people how to succeed at networking, because I have struggled with the same things.

You are an expert

One amazing thing about life is that our successes are the greatest in areas where we struggle the most. I have read a lot about networking and have come to realize that many of the “experts” are wrong. When I hear someone using “elevator pitch” and “networking” in the same sentence I run (if you are in sales you don’t need to run, these are great sales tools, they are just NOT networking tools). If networking hadn’t been so hard for me, I never would have understood why these things don’t make sense.

Your Turn

What are the areas of your life that you struggled with for years? Did you have to learn management, leadership, or graphics through the school of hard knocks? If so you are probably more of an expert than you ever imagined. If you are open to sharing, there millions of people that need to hear and learn from you, not from someone that was a “natural.” You many never be able to (or desire to) connect with millions, but can you start this week by sharing some of what you have learned with at least one person.

5 thoughts on “I don’t like networking events

  1. Count me as someone who is simply bugged by elevator speeches to begin with. The concept of pre-testing a rote memorized description of what your business is without regard to context or audience does not make a lot of sense to me.

    We can all stand honing out understanding of our business, what clients are looking for, and where our businesses stand out … but prepackaged repetition usually sounds like it.

    Final thought – I think you really hit it on the head talking about friendships. When an event stops being a networking event and instead becomes sharing time with friends, colleagues and respected professionals, the entire focal point and reaction evolves into something a lot more fun.

  2. Tim Hughes, – I’m with you on the creepy elevator speeches. Yuck.

    And Tim Klabunde, it’s nice to hear that even a networking expert like yourself doesn’t always like networking events. It’s been nearly 14 years since my first industry event. I was 22 and I hid in the ladies’ room the better part of the event. Later I graduated to the “cling to the confident friend” tactic where I shadowed my networking savvy buddies, and today I’m finally comfortable on my own. And the reason is exactly as you note above. I know in what areas I’m an expert, I’ve made tons of friends, real ones, and I’m relaxed enough to enjoy learning all the things I don’t know from the people I encounter. Hopefully you’re ideas above help someone else make the transition from scaredy cat networker to confident relationship builder a little faster than it happened for me.

  3. Thanks for the platform to be honest about this stuff. I have no formal training in graphic design, marketing, and business. Yet here I am, the marketing director for a firm with 20+ years of experience and a wealth of integrity and respect in the community we serve.

    What I’m learning is that people are people. Regardless of the setting, education, experience, “bling,” etc. People want to be related to as individuals and in the context of what they are proud of. NO ONE wants to be an experiment for your latest “pitch.” People can smell insincerity…I know I can.

  4. I agree will all of your points but it is also important to also be able to describe you company’s services clearly. If some ask what you do and it takes 20 minutes to tell them that is also a problem.

    The reason most people attended networking events is to learn and connect with like minded people in the industry. As a photographer a big part of job my job is connecting with people in a short amount of time in order to reveal something about them that is reflected in the image. If you don’t enjoy people then networking events can be painful.

    Be yourself, go into an event to learn not sell some thing and you will come away a much richer person.

  5. Wow, yeah, “networking.” Kinda a scary word – it conjures up a very cold, covert approach to making friends. Friends who aren’t actually your friends. Networking: the forced-friend making activity, that’s really what it is. So I like the term “connecting.”

    You can connect anywhere, it doesn’t need to be at a networking event per se. I connect with peers in my professional all the time. Whether it’s hunting, fishing, shopping, camping…if you keep your ears open you can find opportunities to connect all over the city. It’s a much more comfortable atmosphere.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s