Are You Wasting Your Time at Networking Events?

In a recent Entrepreneur article, John Rampton explains to readers “Why You Should Stop Wasting Your Time on Networking Events.” In the piece, Rampton writes, “If people will be there that have great ideas and energy to share, I’m game. But attending an event just to hand out business cards and get a stack in return with the hopes of landing a new client or important connection is not for me.”

As an initial matter, the value of a networking event will depend to some extent on how you define that term. Rampton is probably correct that there is little value in attending an event for the express purpose of networking and exchanging business cards. But what about a cocktail hour following a seminar on a topic central to your industry?

Definitions aside, let’s look at why Rampton feels networking events are a waste of time. He lists five reasons he feels networking events are ineffective. In his words:

  • You don’t really understand what networking is. It’s about exchanging of value, like a piece of content or referral, and not just a business card.
  • You’re focused on selling rather than building a relationship.
  • You don’t follow-up with new acquaintances.
  • You’re attending the wrong types of networking events.
  • You attend networking events with the wrong mindset – you may view it as a work-related task or something that you really don’t want to do.

Rampton says he believes connections are indeed important, but argues that there are more effective ways to make these connections than networking events such as: hosting your own event, double dating, reconnecting with dormant ties and building relationships online.

But before we ditch networking events altogether in favor of double dating, let’s take time to consider the reasons Rampton believes networking events are ineffective. These are all curable shortcomings. For example, if it’s true that “you don’t follow-up with new acquaintances,” follow up with your new acquaintances. Similarly, if “you’re attending the wrong types of networking events,” find the events that are right for you.

Networking events may not be right for everyone. And Rampton is correct that there are a number of ways to build your network other than attending events or even setting out to consciously network for networking’s sake.

However, we certainly don’t believe these events are a waste of time, as he argues. Done right, networking definitely makes sense. How are you doing with that?


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