In my experience, no.
Not at all.
Especially if you’re using them to get clients.
Why Networking Events Don’t Work
Usually, networking events aren’t “worth it” from a making-more-money-and-getting-more-clients perspective.
Because every single damn person in the room is there, reeking of desperation, getting all handsy over the potential of getting someone else’s money in their pocket.
And every single person in the room also knows there ain’t no chance in hell that they’re buying from any of these suckers…. but maybe, juuuuust maybe, someone will buy from them. Or they’ll get a referral or something.
If it sounds disgusting and icky, that’s because it is. And as bad as it sounds, it feels even worse to be there. Which is why no one buys from anyone. And why we all get so frustrated afterwards.
But for some reason, we keep going back to networking events. Hoping that this one will be different. But we show up, and it’s not.
(And, yeah, I know some troll is going to try to make me sound like an idiot because he once landed a $10,000 deal from a networking event. Duh. Obviously that happens sometimes. But it’s rare. And doesn’t happen for most people. Hell, I’ve landed client gigs out of networking events, but never enough to be in love with them or think they’re a worthwhile time investment… unless I deliberately want to be at them for other reasons. And there’s also the rare people who excel at networking events. But these are the uber-extroverts that have superpowers the rest of us just don’t. And even STILL only a teeny, tiny percentage of the people they talk to end up becoming customers. So to get 10 new customers, they have to spend the time to talk to HUNDREDS. No thanks, I’ll pass.)
So, my dear, if you loathe the days you “have to” show up for networking events because they’re “good for your business,” stop. 🛑
You don’t have to go to networking events, especially if you don’t enjoy them, and especially if they don’t work for you.
You’re the one in control of your life, and there are a lot easier, more efficient ways of getting clients. Like job boards of companies looking for part-time or contract help. That’s actually a great way to land clients, and you don’t even have to put on a fresh t-shirt or rub makeup over your pimples.
That’s not to say that you can’t go… of course you can. But don’t feel like you have to. Be picky with your time and your energy, and you’ll be a lot happier. You get to choose whether you waste two hours talking to a lot of wanna-be business owners who are never going to buy from you, or spend that time watching a sitcom, eating a slow dinner, and taking a long bath where genius business ideas come to you.
What Networking Events ARE Good For
That isn’t to say that I hate all networking events. I just pretty much LOATHE every single one whose only claim for its validity is that it’s “good for networking.”
Let me translate that for you:
“Good for networking” = “A lot of random people thrown together, expecting something cool to happen. But nothing cool happens. So they’re bored & the best they can hope for is awkward, business-focused small talk with strangers and exchanging business cards.”
What networking events ARE good for, though, are things like:
- Finding camaraderie within your niche
- Meeting local people to hang out with
- Making new friends
- I have actually met some of my most impressive friends at conferences, so…
- Learning something new
And then, they’re usually not labeled “networking events.” They’re usually called conferences, meetups, talks, or workshops. (Hint: ditch the “networking events” and go to those things instead.)
What to Look for in a Good Networking Event
So, I know a lot of you are probably hella relieved that you finally got the permission slip to ditch out on stupid networking events that you “should” go to.
And honestly, it took me a long, long time to figure out what makes a good networking event and what doesn’t.
For an introvert who isn’t a morning person, for example, a 9 am talk with doors opening at 8 for “open networking”? Terrible idea. I have no one I want to talk to at that hour, let alone strangers trying to small talk me with fake-nervous smiles. Plus, who the hell wants to smile that early? No one. That’s who.
(Please don’t feel attacked, morning people. Clearly these events were made for someone – go and own them!)
But if you want a good networking event, the key thing to look for is deliberate, facilitated engagement that has a purpose OTHER than some sort of silly speed dating exercise or practicing your elevator pitches at each other. Workshops are great for this. So are most meetups.
Essentially, you’re looking for a group of people coming together for purposes OTHER than trying to awkwardly pitch each other their services.
Conferences can be a hit or miss, but these are some good questions to ask:
- Does the conference include smaller break-off sessions where you can meet other people?
- Is there a way to introduce yourself (and to get introduced to) others attending the conference so you know WHO to talk to, so you’re not just wasting your time & shooting in the dark with unproductive small talk?
- Is the conference just a bunch of speakers speaking on obvious topics you already know everything about?
- If the conference is speakers-focused, are there networking facilities available to people who don’t really want to attend sessions? And will you have a way to non-awkwardly introduce yourselves to each other, without intruding on their personal space or quiet time?
Conclusion: No More Time-Wasting Events for You, Hun
Not wanting to go to networking events doesn’t make you a bad business person. And not putting yourself through cringe-worthy social torture doesn’t mean you’re somehow not going to be successful. All it means? Is that you’re smart and don’t want to waste your time. And that you have better things to do. (Like actually make money. Or, you know, bubble baths.)