Mine has been a mixed bag. It largely does not work on the casual event basis, where you attend a seminar & somewhere on the agenda is networking. This is the bit where you mechanically make polite, business small talk & exchange cards. Cards that either get tossed, or slotted into a business card holder,, without further adieu. Case in point a recent (end August) event I attended, that was billed as a business opportunity but really wasn’t. The speakers did their bit & at the end of the agenda we were all invited to network. Cue the idle talk & exchange of business cards. However, there were two speakers whom would have been of help; supplying information we needed & had been after for sometime. I meandered my way to them & asked my first question, of the lady senior manager of BT. ‘Oh’! came the reply, ”I don’t know, give me your card & I’ll get back to you’’….. .still waiting; not that I thought I’d be getting a response. The look on my face obviously told her so, ‘cos she explained that multi departmental responsibilities, meant specific information needed investigation. I didn’t ask for her card, experience has taught me not to expect replies, from such encounters.
Ditto the other senior manager chap that I asked for information & emailed, with suggestions on how a thorny issue maybe tackled, for the good of all. As this was an organization with a remit to encourage London businesses, I did phone but only get a female voice message, informing me this particular Director was unavailable, leave a message. Of course I didn’t, I may feel I need to try again but I think I’m doomed
Networking seems to work better when its an on- going, targeted forum, of professionals, or like minded people. This allows relationships to be built overtime. This type of event helps keep you in the know of industry activities. It also forms a useful point of contact, to build mutually beneficial business relationships. I make a particular point of looking through my business card holder & getting in touch, when a specific expertise or know- how is needed. The company that built our website is a case in point. Likewise a number of business women have benefitted directly with business from us, as a consequence of belonging to the same WIB network. I cannot say it was reciprocal though.
With the information age where a click can give you an answer (maybe dodgy), On-line professional forums, Linkedin being the most ubiquitous; I ask. Do networking events work for you? Or am I doing something wrong?