Networking breakdowns

I went to someone else’s breakfast networking event the other day. It is not a weekly event like my regular one, but takes place monthly. I guess there were about thirty people there and some of them were certainly present with the intention of talking to other business people and meeting new faces.

I have to say that unfortunately the event was a bit of a shambles. The organisers had booked a speaker who didn’t turn up. This was not their fault entirely although had I invited an outside speaker I would have given him or her a call the day before to make sure they were still up for it.

Still, the event would still have been a success in my book if, given we were only there for ninety minutes, the participators had each had a minute to introduce themselves. Then we would have had an opportunity to buttonhole those who might have been of particular interest on the day. As it was, we did not even have the chance to mingle with all present because a number of people in groups of three or four had sat themselves down around tables, probably with people they knew. That did not in my book amount to networking; they were closed off in their cliques from the rest of the gathering.

The meeting would have been much better if there had been a proper structure in view of the limited time available. I made the most of it by talking to as many of the open and receptive people there as I could fit in, but if you are organizing a short event like this, do give everyone there a chance to give their elevator pitch or just explain what they are looking for in terms of connections. Certainly do not let them sit down unless around one big table where they have to introduce themselves to the whole gathering.

© Jon Stow 2010

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2 Responses to Networking breakdowns

  1. Babs Saul says:

    This kind of networking was rife when I started doing it, well over 10 years ago now – I hated it.

    Thankfully, hopefully, the above is less common now, Jon – I do hope so anyway, as I start to “get out there” again after a couple of years focusing on online networking…

  2. Jon Stow says:

    Thanks, very much for your comment, Babs. I guess the main organiser lacks experience. Maybe I should get him along to one of my meetings.

    I think most of us, including me, have learned a lot directly or indirectly from BNI even if an over-structured meeting with too much pressure from referrals can put people off. I am sure you will find it better when you “get out there” again.

    Whether or not the meeting is structured suitably there will always be people who don’t get it, but with structure they are more likely to get it after a while.

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