A few weeks ago, I was “on the fence” about going to a Jeff Pulver social media networking breakfast. The main reason I was even considering this event was to meet a particular person who had RSVP’d a confirmation. I was thinking, “Hmmmm…but what if he decides not to go–will it really be worth my time?”
Research Before a Networking Event
Then my brother emailed me to let me know he had been laid off from his job (after 13 years of employment with the same company) and was wondering if I could help with his job search. I immediate thought about the networking event and told him it might be a good idea to attend the event–even if just to brush-up on his networking skills. So I directed him to the Facebook event page detailing the event and told him to review the profiles of the people who had confirmed attendance.
Set Goals for Networking
On the day of the event I met my brother at the train station. On our ride in I asked my brother, “Hey Ron, did you have a chance to review the profiles and set your goals?” He told me he didn’t have a chance to review and then said, “I need goals?”
I responded “Here’s the thing, if you don’t have goals for attending an event, how will you know if was worthwhile?” I then went on to say, if it’s possible, it’s always a good idea to plan who you want to meet and want you want to accomplish BEFORE the event.
Why Goals are Important
First, if you can’t come up with at least 2 or 3 specific, obtainable objectives, then attending the networking event is probably not worth your time. Second, goals helps you to focus your time (and choices) while you are at the event. Finally, when the networking event is over, you can measure your level of success which can then help you decide if you should do it (or something like it ) again.
Be Prepared, but Embrace the Unexpected
However, I’ll admit you also need to consider the “you don’t know, what you don’t know” factor. For example, the two things biggest benefits I gained from attending that event were things I couldn’t have anticipated ahead of time.
Unexpectedly I met a fiction writer, Christine Cavalier (aka Purplecar) so I mentioned to her a new “writing” project I am developing with a major NY publisher. She made a suggestion that was incredibly insightful. I knew immediately that her idea was going to make a significant positive impact on the project. I was even somewhat embarrassed that I hadn’t come up with idea. Of course, I thanked her over and over again! (Thanks, Christine – again!)
The second biggest benefit was learning about a possible source of seed money for a community service project that I have been thinking about. I have a great idea that with a small amount of money could really make a major impact on the lives of people in my local community.
Finally, my goal of meeting Kevin, never panned out. (Kevin Werbach, if you are reading this, I will be at University of Pennsylvania delivering seminars in both April and May and I would like to meet you.) So although I met my goal of helping my brother brush-up on his networking skills and I gained two pearls of wisdom, I did not achieve all of my up-front goals.
Was the event worth my time? For me, family always come first and if I was able to help my brother in some small way, then for sure it was worth my time. (In fact, he just called to update me on his job search. Sounds like he will be gainfully employed very soon!) In addition, the idea from Christine, for sure, was worth the time investment and my guess is that I’ll get a chance to meet Kevin soon.
So, my question for you is…what goals will you set for your next event? How will you know if you have been successful? Tell us about it in the comments.
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