In the first couple of years of my business, I hit just about every networking event I could. Entrepreneur events, women’s events, corporate events, you name it. I got to know a lot of people, got to BE known by a lot of people… and burned out. Hardcore. I got to the point where I couldn’t handle another networking event, and pretty soon business started suffering.
When I finally got back to attending events on a regular basis, I became much more picky… and much more successful at finding qualified contacts for my business. Here’s what I learned.
1. Know your audience. Who do you work best with? Who do you want to meet? What industries do they work in? Find events that are specifically targeted towards the type of clients/customers you want to make contact with. Ignore the rest. One thing I realized during this process is that the best events for me are foodie tradeshows; they’re a great way to meet a wide variety of the exact type of clients I’m looking for – foodies – and I can collect a bunch of cards to follow up with after the show.
2. Give every event two chances (but be ready to drop it if it isn’t working for you). There are some events that will work really well for you; others won’t. Figure out what works best, what doesn’t, and use that to judge whether an event will work for you. And don’t worry about dropping out of groups; sometimes, it just isn’t a good fit.
3. Go to every event with some sort of goal. It’s easy to just show up for an event and hope for the best. But I’ve found that going with some sort of goal in mind – whether it’s to find three new leads or just to have a couple of really interesting conversations – leads to a much more successful (and much more fun!) event.
How do you find events?