For every serious entrepreneur, there is too much going on to add jockeying networking events into the mix. But if you dismissed every event, you will miss out on genuine business benefits of attending networking events.
The most important part in choosing to attend an event or not is in justifying the slice of time you would spend cozying up to other players in your industry. How do you know which events are worth your time? And which ones will give you a justifiable return on time invested?
Asking and answering the following questions is a good start:
1. Is there a topic?
If a networking event doesn’t have a topic, it’s an easy pass. You are too busy to attend an event with no clear focus. When a networking does have a topic, however, it isn’t as easy a pass.
Before you can justify passing on such event, see if the topic is what you are interested in. Will the discussion around the topic help a present business sour spot? E.g. Low sales. Do you think the content is such that you can get from simply reading a blog post?
If you come up with satisfying and defensible answers to support attending the event, then do well to check in for a few minutes at the event.
2. What’s the agenda?
It’s not enough for the event to have a topic. Some events fail to deliver on the promise of a good conversation. And sadly, you won’t figure out until you are at the venue.
If the agenda is set out clearly (in addition to the relevant topic) and fits with what you can endure, then check in.
3. Who’s speaking?
Also critical. A great topic plus a speaker whom you are convinced is an authority is a potent alchemy to get you to the event. You will generally have a good time, especially if you can get a one-on-one with this person.
4. Who’s attending?
Maybe more important than the speaker(s) are other people who would be attending. If some investors or potential early customers would be at this event, then it’s a good place to check in. If not for anything else, for the possibility of wrangling out a deal or landing a new client.
5. Where is it happening?
This is a big deal. If an event is happening outside of your city, for instance, you will probably be spending two active days outside of your office. Can you afford that? Then there is the matter of boarding. And then traveling expenses. If you think you can benefit from the downtime this sort of trip provides, it’s probably a good idea to leave the business on this work/pleasure trip.
Moreover, most networking events in tech happen in Lagos as of now, you probably won’t have to worry about this.
6. Does it present an opportunity for growth?
If this point sounds like this what all the previous points boil down to, it’s probably because it is. It’s also more.
Even after an event has checked out on all the other fronts, if the answer to this question is a ‘no’ then you are okay to stay back in the office. LinkedIn Founder, Reid Hoffman, is known to base all his decisions on one main reason. If there isn’t just one big enough reason for him to take an action, he wouldn’t.
Apply the same here. If the answer to this one question is not convincing, then hang back at the office.
What do you think? Why do you choose to attend some events and not attend others? Let’s talk in the comments.
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