After facilitating high-level networking groups for a decade, I must say, I LOVE THEM. Why, because I control the environment to ensure success. That might sound arrogant or “controlling” but it’s not, it’s what’s needed.

A few tips about running great networking events are:

1. Facilitate your own so you can set the tone.

I run lunches that have 8 members that come every month.
Each member commits, on a contract, to be there every month with a decision maker level or deeply networked guest. We spend 1.5 hours in a highly structured but fun environment getting to know one another’s business. And before I close the lunch, I ask EVERY attendee to publicly announce with whom they can help and how.

I’ve personally generated Hundreds of Thousands of dollars from these events over the years.

2. Host as few drinking events as you can.

I always tell my clients that they need to understand, “networking is work. It’s not net-drinking, it’s networking!” These events rarely result in a return on the investment of time and effort. If you’re going to have one, host it as a party more than a networking event.

Having said that, a nice structured dinner and wine event from time to time is always nice for those clients/contacts that will appreciate them.

3. Be picky about who attends.

There is not always strength in numbers. I recommend “purposeful networking”. Think about who you want to invite and then scrub your network to find purposeful guests. This is an instant winner for your attendees and sets you apart as a force in the networking world.


 

A few tips when attending an event.

4. Have a plan before the event.

With whom do you want to spend time? Recruiters, business owners, accountants, etc. Be purposeful about how you execute your plan by focusing your time on the right people that you can help and that can help you.

5. Go to give.

Don’t go with the mindset of “I’m going to find business today”. Instead, go with a determination to enhance others networks by making strong connections. This mentality will set you apart from many at the event. And I guarantee, if you go with that mindset, business will come and you will not be disappointed.

6. Understand that networking is not a leads group.

Many people attend events with skewed expectations. Networking is about identifying strong likable people to whom you want to open your network and who want to reciprocate for you. This can take a follow-up call, a personal 1:1 meeting and a concerted effort to identify and introduce people to one another. Expecting to get business by dealing out 50 business cards will only set you up to frown upon networking. It doesn’t work!

7. Don’t give up too easily.

Unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment, disappointment often leads to giving up. If you plan to join a group, be picky. Once you find one that makes sense, make a commitment to give it all you have for a year.

8. Offer solutions, don’t point fingers.

We’ve all been to bad events. If you have a suggestion to make one better, talk to the facilitator. If they are real networkers, they will appreciate the input. If not, go build your own with best practices.

9. Track your Return on Investment.

I recommend to my clients and I insist for my members to track the ROI. Return on Investment or Results, Outcome, Impact. Sometimes connections add value in other ways than the bottom line. They find you a new office space, a deal on furniture or travel, etc. ROI may not be just dollars.  But if you add up your financial investment in a group, the time you spend, measured at a reasonable rate and then you run the numbers for a year, you BETTER be getting an ROI. If not, stop it, and find something that works. Like starting your own group and then running it like a machine.

As you can probably tell, I am deeply passionate about networking and the powerful impact that it can have. Being a coach and the co-founder of @revenue, www.atRevenue.com, I’m happy to talk more about my passion for making networking work for you.