I attended a networking conference yesterday for entrepreneurs. It was designed to be a way for people looking to go into business for themselves to meet people who could help them along the way.
It looked more like a shark feeding frenzy.
There were at least 5 people per entrepreneur in attendance. That’s 5 people hoping to sell their services for every one person with a dream.
And that’s the biggest complaint I hear from anyone who attends a networking event. It’s a room full of sellers and no buyers.
But networking is still a powerful tool for growing your business without spending a ton of money. You just have to be smart about how you do it. You have to know that you are walking into a room full of sellers.
The best advice? Be a buyer. Take the attitude that you are going in to meet only a handful of people and see how they might be able to help your business. Don’t worry if they have services you don’t need or want. Don’t worry if they give you hard sells. Just listen, ask questions, and give them a platform to talk. At the end of the conversation you’ll know somebody new, and if you listen hard enough, you’ll know them well.
And best of all, you will have planted a seed in them without turning them off. Yes, selling turns people off. Listening turns them on. So listen and learn, and plant seeds that will sprout somewhere down the road.
If you make it a goal to be a buyer in a room full of sellers and try to meet only one or two people per event:
- You’ll have more fun
- Your dance card will always be full
- You’ll make connections that will pay off down the road
Now imagine the seller at a networking event who can’t find a buyer. He’ll call the event a waste of time. And you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.