Why do you show up for social events? Peer pressure, because your boss or friend told you to, or just because there was an event. If you answered yes to any of these you may be doing it wrong.
Networking for the sake of networking does not make sense. Going to events is fine, but you should know why you are there. You should have a plan and have a rough idea for how you plan on using your limited time.
Sure, this is common sense and is Networking 101. However. I see far too many people just show up and hope that something good will happen.
Related: What's Your Body Language Saying?
Social Media Plays a Role
If you are attending events that are within your industry you should be using Social Media to find out who else is going. You should be using Social Media before, during and after the event to insure you know who will be there (or at least have an idea) and that you know what you will say to them when you get your 30-60 second window of opportunity.
What about events that are generic or not in your industry? To me that’s ok. It’s nice to explore areas outside your specialty and/or engage within a common cause that a more general Social Media event might attract.
What is the point of Social Media?
Is this an indictment on the state of Social Media and events ? Absolutely not. Quite the contrary. Social Media has made learning about events almost frictionless. You can find out about events happening in your region within a few mouse clicks. You can also find out about events happening wherever you happen to be.
For example, if you are attending a trade show (which is, of course, a type of Social Media & Networking) you can find out very quickly if there is a meetup happening at the show. No longer do you have to hope and wait someone will tell you where to meet. Now your local search can do that work for you.
As I said at the start of this post… Networking for the sake of Networking does NOT make sense. Know the WHY, Have a plan, and Execute. Make sure you know WHY you are attending events. Make sure you HAVE a plan for attending each and every event. There is not enough time to attend every event. Be picky. Your peers will appreciate your discretion.
Is this too mercurial and calculating? Perhaps, but if you are like most people you don’t have unlimited time. Determine where you can most effectively spend your most valuable resource… your time. Then as you figure this out make sure you maximize your time and execute your plan.
When you do these consistently you will develop a plan of action and a rubric for getting the most out of your networking engagements and opportunities. You will develop your own style because it will be a style that works for you. Which means you’ll be able to keep it up over the long haul.
As you find ways that work for your style of networking you will likely encounter similarly minded individuals and also those that think completely differently than you do. When you find both of these types of people… embrace them… through our differences we can evaluate ideas and methods to do more together.
When you are able to do this on a consistent basis you will stand out in your career. Not as a career “networker” rather as a successful networker that utilizes networking effectively and efficiently to get more done. At the end of it all that should be the goal. And, when you develop deep friendships as a result that’s much more than a side benefit. In fact, that might be the ultimate benefit.
Networking when done right can make a lot of sense. Have a plan and execute wisely.
This story originally appeared on Personal Branding Blog