I went to a chamber networking event last night, actually it was a combination of 4 chambers. I did not know anyone there except one chamber director. This always makes me uncomfortable however I was there to network and try to connect with people that were interested in what I was selling. These events actually are not the perfect situation to network as it is very difficult to really talk and everyone is busy eating, drinking and wanting not to be there. Sometimes we have a job to do and networking is part of it. I would prefer something a little different and that is what happened on another day for me.
An art show became a networking event just by chance for me. I was at an art show last weekend and happened to make contact with a person that is also involved with the community through a non-profit and he is trying to make the environment a better place for all of us. I told him I was interested in the non-profit because I am passionate about the environment and accredited in recycling and zero waste. I called him to follow up with our meeting at the art show and we have set up a meeting at his office next week.
The difference between these two is this: It was noisy at the Chamber event, music, people talking, people being distracted by food and drink vendors. The art show was outside and nobody was distracted by food and drink vendors, people seemed to be more relaxed because it was an art show and not a networking event.
I realize that both type of networking is sometimes necessary depending on your business. For me I prefer a more casual atmosphere where people do not feel pressured to sell to each other and they do not have to put on phony smiles.
Do you find networking events help you sell your product or service? Do you feel pressured to attend because it is part of your job? When you do attend what helps to make it easier for you to connect to the people there? Thank you for reading and I look forward to reading your comments.