Not So Great Networking

Not So Great Networking

Oct 16
Not So Great Networking

It is fair to say that I have been on the networking circuit for some time.  I wouldn’t say I have ‘been around the block,’ as there are many more experienced networkers than me out there.

That said I have gathered a fair amount of knowledge and some experience so far on my networking journey.  Of course there has been fantastic moment and amazing connections and business done.  However there have been moments that have been utterly cringe-worthy. Moments when I have wondered why I was at a particular event….. and that’s not just the coffee!

Cambridge is rich in business networking events.  I have often joked that it would be possible to go to breakfast, lunch and dinner for a good few weeks in the area and still not go to everything that is on offer.  There really is something for every sector, and for the night owls and early birds alike.

Of course there are the obligatory membership, breakfast groups, you may have had an invite to one or two of them.  Then there are the lunchtime groups, and ‘ladies’ only groups and evening events.

Meeting People

The basic premise is always the same and that is meeting people.  Each group / event has its own agenda and feel.  Some are more formalised than others, some stick to a rigid and ‘proven’ agenda others are more relaxed and offer plenty of open networking time.  Each has their downfall and it is simply because of people and nothing more.  Some see networking as a pure and simple opportunity to say a cursory hello and then sell AT you.  This isn’t so much an issue at a formalised event with a rigid agenda but at open networking events it can be awful.

I’d much rather meet you, get to know you a little, then find out about your business and at that point see what happens.

Formalised groups or those that combine some open networking are great.  Its an opportunity to connect with people you might have met at a previous event or simply meet some new faces.  Its always a great thing to be able to do, if you have been to an event before and you see a person looking a little forlorn, go and introduce yourself find out about them, who they are looking to meet.  If you can introduce them to someone who might be helpful to them all the better.

Networking Host

Of course a great networking host should go ahead and do this, but if it is a busy event then, they simply may not get the chance.  It can be a daunting experience to attend an event where it seems everyone is an old hand and knows everyone else.  If you are left standing alone clutching a mediocre cup of coffee in a function room, look around there is bound to be at least one other person doing exactly the same thing.  The other person will be very relieved if you go over and say hello, it will probably ensure you are remembered too.

Talking of the ‘absent’ networking host, it can be just as bad if the host is too present.  I have been at events where I have been have a great conversation, making some very useful connections, only to be quite literally dragged off to be introduced to someone who has either shown no interest in talking to me or has been a direct competitor. (Now I am all for finding a synergy and there is certainly nothing wrong with healthy competition but…..)

Then there is the networking host who takes no time to promote their event.  This has to be one of the biggest failings.  No people in the room means less opportunities for everyone.  If you are able to find out numbers before attending, and you have a choice of events then it might well be worth doing.  Having said that there is always the old adage of quality not quantity!  Attendee lists can be very useful, but are not always easy to come by.


Research is invaluable, if attending an event with a speaker.  Make sure you are interested in the subject matter.  There surely can be nothing worse than attending an event, being forced to listen politely to a speaker talking about something in which you have no interest in.  If you are going to attend anyway, take time to perfect the ‘closed mouth yawn’ before you do!

Every person networking is far more that their business.  This is the point at which, for me anyway, the magic happens!  I might not have the solution or answer to whatever you might need, I may not need what you ‘do’ right then, BUT that is not to say that at some point in the future either myself, a client or someone else in my network might. 

Not Instant Gratification

Networking is not an instant sales gratification tool.  It takes time and lots of it to really pay off.  In my experience consistency, communication and kindness are the keys to making it work for you.

1 comment

  1. Michala

    An excellent blog on networking every vital point explained lots of people feel the same

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