I visibly cringe when someone invites me to something called a networking group. I’ve been to these gatherings, where there’s one representative of each kind of industry, where you’re expected to share your “elevator speech” and share leads. It’s formulaic, and it might very well work for those who rely on cold calls to build business when all other efforts fail, but it’s really not my style.
What I find much more valuable, is attending events that interest me, and that attract like-minded people. The people I have met at nonprofit events, or through volunteering in my community, or at educational opportunities like lectures, films, and panel discussions are far more interesting and likely to result in real work relationships than those brought together in a manufactured networking environment.
I know it’s hard for those just starting out to dive into unknown groups and start introducing themselves. But if you’re there for a mission, or to listen and learn, with the opportunity to share ideas afterward, it’s a much more authentic relationship-building experience that results.
If you’re looking for a networking alternative, feel free to ask me what I’m attending next.