I’m not a fan of the word “networking”. It conjures up whiffs of boredom and bad (but free so can’t complain) coffee. Those kind of events are pointless because they’re usually full of fishermen and no fish. Everyone is selling, no one is buying.
The events that we get the most out of are the ones where there’s minimal business chat. Getting to know the person is far more enjoyable - we don’t try to “sell” anything and somehow that makes the conversation richer because there’s no expectation or awkwardness.
There’s also an interesting situation that happens at these “networking” events - it’s that point where you approach a group who are mid conversation and attempt to involve yourself. Watching this unfold is one of my favourite things.
There’s the super confident I-attend-three-of-these-a-day types, who storm in with a business card for everyone, recite a sales pitch, realise no one is really interested and move on.
Then there’s a type similar to the first, although this one recites their sales pitch and then, out of courtesy, asks someone else about what they do but glazes over as soon as they start to answer. This type will eventually just morph into the the first and skip the courtesy part.
There’s the hoverer that waits on the outskirts of the group but never finds the right moment to get involved in the chat.
There are usually a couple of people who have been sent by head office so their company has a “presence”. They usually stay close to the bacon baps and leave as soon as it’s acceptable to, or as soon as the bacon runs out, whichever comes quicker.
The people we like to meet most are those that come with no expectation or sales pitch. They are genuinely interested in what we do and are passionate about what they do too.
People forget how to be a person at these events and start to become “the face of a company” instead - no one wants to meet a company but everyone wants to get to know a new person - especially if that person is enthusiastic, interesting and relatable. At that point you don’t mind suffering the coffee and the bacon is a bonus.