Networking Events — Battle Zone or Tea Party?

What’s your take on networking events? What’s the purpose of attending them – what do you hope to acheive? Although I’m not new to the government contracting world, I’ve only attended 2 networking events in my career (the second one being last night). I enjoy meeting people and have been told that I can carry a nice conversation. Nonetheless, I felt a bit like a deer in headlights at my networking event last night.

My question is — what are your goals and strategies when attending networking events? More importantly, HOW do you meet those goals? Are you Machiavellian and push people over to meet the VIP of the room – or are you Mahatma Gandhi in a “zen” moment smiling and greeting people and enjoying the moment?

I’m curious to hear your thoughts.

Networking Events: Battle Zone or Tea Party? Which is the way to go?

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Stephen Peteritas

At the actual event you almost have to be Machiavellian. In my experience most networking events have 3 or 4 people you ACTUALLY want to network with and everyone in the room knows who those people are. While I’d recommend the Machiavellian approach at the event the Gandhi approach is absolutely necessary from the moment you leave the event to nurture that connection and actually make it worth while.

Andrew Krzmarzick

If you can, prepare in advance. If there is some public list of attendees (like on Eventbrite), be sure to write down that list of 3-4 people that Stephen mentions below. Regardless of how others see them, those are your VIPs…and if you meet them and forge a connection, then you’ve achieved your goals for the event.

But I’d say you also want to be a bit of Alice in Wonderland – explore the rabbit holes that lead to serendipitous encounters! Those have been the most interesting (and valuable) contacts to me over the years.

Corey McCarren

I’ve been to a couple of networking events as well and for me it seemed to be much more of a battlezone atmosphere than tea party. I personally knew who I was looking to meet and they were looking for me as well so I didn’t have to engage people in the “battlezone” too much (especially since the event was cleantec startups, which isn’t really for me), but I did notice a lot of people who didn’t seem to know who they were looking for just going around and talking with whoever they could grab the attention of.