“Networking doesn’t have to be all about talking shop over appetizers and bad chardonnay – do it in a way that works for you.” Kathryn Minshew
Meet Me Halfway
As the digital age continues to steam forward at an exponential rate and more time is spent behind our blue-lit screens – our ever-weakening eyes and our ability to socialize are the victims of our digital revolution.
Despite what the internet provides: a never endless stream of potential customers or an infinite list of buyers that you just can’t seem to contact. One thing remains constant; the intangibles of a business relationship such as trust, integrity, and simply doing business with someone you like. That’s why even with the rise of tele-conferencing apps like Skype or Microsoft’s Online Meetings where you can instantaneously meet, chat, and call into any meeting room around the world, people continue to board planes, trains, and cars.
Websites like LinkedIn (or simply networking online) is here to stay as it should, because of the low-cost, ease, and the number of potential leads but all this comes at a cost:
- These factors create a situation where you can become lost in the crowd – with the low barrier to entry everyone and their mother is a salesperson and we have become desensitized to sales messages on various online platforms such as LinkedIn or in our email inbox.
- Lack of personalization means ignoring or hitting the delete button is easier than ever. We’ve all done it!
- Networking online means casting a large net trying to get that one bite, which can lead to wasted time if you don’t first qualify your prospects (i.e. do you even need what I’m selling?).
- Most importantly think of any time in your life you got a job, sale, or second date without first meeting in person. Anyone can perform well behind a screen with time to craft the perfect profile or message – however meeting someone in person can change everything.
What networking events provide is the opportunity to not only be surrounded by like-minded individuals, but also in-person environment. In-person allows for real time feedback on the message that you are conveying. This personalization of your message means people are more likely to be interested in what you are saying; increasing your chance for someone’s most valuable resource, their time and attention. More importantly, the simple fact someone is at a networking event is self-qualifying. They are someone who is interested in the topic and someone has given up their own time to learn more, whether that be about your product or your industry.
According to Ryze – 68% of professionals value face-to-face networking more than online.
A couple hours of your day offers you the ability to learn something new, or potentially find a future business partner. A networking event offers participants the chance to meet a wide range of individuals in different segments of the population. Take into consideration the breakout success of Blockchain events, where young entrepreneurs are offered the ability to showcase their talent to experienced investors, and more so to a hyper-targeted mix of potential investors. We know that these investors are interested and want to hear about what the new blockchain company is offering.
Top brand CoinDesk, which put on the recent Consensus, reported: Singapore, fully sold out their sponsorships months in advance of the event, which saw over 8,000 attendees, enjoying two days of industry information and networking opportunities delivered by over 75+ speakers.
This is just one event in a list that spans the globe. Those willing to participate are exposed to the potential investment for the next big Blockchain opportunity.
Now I understand and I have heard it all:
- But I’m not an extrovert
- Sounds like more stress than fun
- Approaching strangers is hard
- I just don’t have time
Rather than looking at a networking event as a job or something to be feared, view it as a laid-back atmosphere where you have the opportunity to discuss what you are actually interested in with those of similar interests.
Online Networking Events
As the digital age continues to move forward, the same standard networking events no longer apply – gone are the days of name tags and handshakes in crowded conference rooms – as online networking events bridge the gap made by geographical distance. We have been given a new medium to do what we have already doing – making connections.
Should you find yourself in an online networking event, follow these three tips to maximize your experience.
- Set yourself apart from the crowd through personalized messages that will grab people’s attention.
- Offer something meaningful to the conversation by staying current and up-to-date in your industry.
- Take opportunities for setting up a one on one meeting with select attendees. Schedule your in-person meeting, or plan for a more private setting such as on Skype.
Every day we see that the line between the online and the physical world blurred, as more of our interactions occur online. Tinder is a clear example of this blurring of two worlds. Online dating has gone from a topic that was once ridiculed (lava life commercials anyone?) to the norm and even a great way to meet new people.
Regardless how you choose to network whether that be online or in the traditional sense, the importance of an event for networking cannot be trivialized. These events provide an opportunity to be surrounded by individuals (both physically and as our avatars) who share a common interest and have the potential to be new customers. It’s clear that events, whether they happen in a conference center or in the online space – will always play an integral part of the networking process as social beings.