It isn’t for me but it is for most people because they aren’t prepared and I doubt that they get much out of it besides talking to people.
Talking to people is great but generating engagement is better.
I went to a networking event the other day. Trying to get out more and weening myself from the false promise that connecting with largely strangers online is networking when it isn’t. They don’t come with stories.
The room was filled with smart people. People who held or had held great positions at significant companies.
I introduced myself to folks and gave them a card and asked “do you have a card?” I would say that half the people didn’t have one. Business cards are so fundamental to business engagement especially when it is a mixer.
They told me their name but that soon evaporated as I met others. No way to follow up unless I could remember their name that night or the next days. Your name can quickly vanish when you meet ten or more folks at an event.
Sometimes I can remember where the person used to work, what they wore and visualize their face in my memory but their name escapes me unless I have their card or write down their name on one of mine.
I continue to be surprised how few people that get launched into transition have cards. People should have personal business cards no matter who they work for.
Today business milestones like a company acquisition may be good for shares prices but not people. Company gets acquired is code for people about to get fired.
It is also difficult to remember folks without cards based on their title. At this event I met folks who were regional sales managers, sales engineer, software developer, business development exec, solutions consultant, and predictive analytics etc. A hodgepodge of titles that lacked memorability and association to who was who among those folks.
It was more important for them to have a card than me as I work for myself and am not looking for a job yet they are.
I probably handed out 15 cards that night and I got one LinkedIn invite the next day. Not a high batting average. Not that I am not lonely as I have over 22,000 LinkedIn connections because for me networking isn’t a waste of time but a way of life that has sustained me for years.
I think most people in transition and even those working know that networking is something they need to do. The majority of jobs are found through networking. Yet many people just go through the motions of networking. For them networking is a waste of time because they have created little engagement or memorability or follow up and that is certainly not a good way to get them to the next chapter of their careers.
I left the event and Ray Charles popped into my mind singing You Don’t Know Me. Have a listen.