I’ve just got back from a networking business expo nearby, and on the drive back I started to think about what we as freelancers need to consider when choosing a networking event. Not all networking events are the same, and to get the most out of them you need to find the right one(s) for you.
So, what should you consider?
Introvert or Extrovert?
Introverted? There’s a good chance you’ll be on top form for an hour or two, but anything more than that will drain you. Check the length of the meetings. For me, a full day’s networking like today was a little too long for me. It’s also important to buffer in some recovering time after to recharge, so block out the afternoon or day after for low energy work. If you’re an extrovert, you might prefer a more high energy networking event.
Ok, I know this sounds like it might be a shallow consideration. I’m not suggesting you judge a networking event by who wears the best shoes. But I’m really not a suit-wearer (that was one of the best things I gave up when I left the corporate world). And my clients are rarely suit-wearers. So I tend to go for the ones with more relaxed dress codes. Equally, if you love nothing more than suiting up, and your clients are usually more corporate, those are probably more suited (pun intended).
Are you looking for focused chats with a small group of people, or more brief chats with a larger group of people? Both have their benefits, but your preference is likely to depend on whether you’re introverted or extroverted.
Do you prefer a fixed structure, or a more relaxed environment? For some, a fixed structure with the opportunity to pitch to a group is attractive, whereas others fancy a morning of coffee and chat with other like-minded people.
How much does it cost to sign up? Some ask for an annual fee plus a sign up, while others just ask for the cost of a cup of tea or coffee. What works for your budget right now?