Stop Networking, Start Socializing StrategicallyMarch 26, 2019 | By Wayne O'Neill
In business, networking at social events such as happy hours and company-sponsored dinners is a great way to spot and create new business opportunities.
Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting as much out of these occasions as they could. And sometimes, the networking goes wrong in surprisingly subtle ways.
At RESET, we coach our clients on the differences between conventional networking and creating connections.
The difference, we’ve discovered, lies in the art of strategic socializing.
So before you attend that next event or host a happy hour, consider these four things.
1. The Occasion Is an Opportunity
The social occasion is not a party. It’s an opportunity to create connections, and to learn about the business and political issues directly impacting the people you want to work with. Meeting people at a social occasion can give you a jumping-off point for further conversation.
2. The Gold Is in the Guest List
No matter if you’re hosting the event or simply attending it, you should take the time beforehand to think about who’s on the guest list. Consider current clients who you’d like to deepen your business connections with, as well as prospective clients who you’d like to begin doing business with.
If you’re in charge of putting together the guest list, keep this in mind: Every person will come for their own best interest. Consider pairing guests with people at the event you think they’d benefit from meeting — people they could do business with, or people who could enhance what their company is doing.
3. Connection Is a Team Sport
Everyone on your team attending the event should be partnered up with a few of the guests and given the responsibility of ensuring those guests are making the right connections.
It’s also a good idea to give your team a script beforehand that they can use to introduce one guest to another. This helps make the introduction process more intentional for everyone.
4. The Biggest Investment Should Be the Prep Time
Most businesses invest the biggest portion of their time and budget in planning the food and drinks for the events they’re hosting. In our experience, for the best networking results the biggest investment should actually be in the prep time.
Ensure your team has enough time to scrub the guest list. Take the time to confirm that everyone on your team knows who needs to meet who at the event. And walk your team through the script they should use for the most natural yet helpful introductions. These things will produce more ROI for your event than any food or beverage.