I was at a business networking event this week. I have to admit, I didn’t feel like a star networker that night. 1st of all, I don’t drink alcohol, and this event was in a liquor distillery, which means there was a much greater selection of alcohol beverages than non. As a matter of fact, after a 10 minute drink line, I got up to the bar and asked for a coke. The bartender said they didn’t have any soda’s. There were about 10 bottles of sparkling water within view. I said “I’ll just have a sparkling water.”
He responded with, “The sparkling water is for mixed drinks only.”
I may have been a little rough in how I expressed my unhappiness about this to the bartender. He did give me the cup of sparkling water, but I can assure you I didn’t make a friend.
To shake it off, I went out to do some networking. For some reason, I just couldn’t seem to get in the groove. I felt like each person I was speaking to was there for either social reasons, or would not be someone my business could connect with. I pressed on however. There was a business owner I know, named Chris speaking to 2 people I didn’t know. Their body language was open for other people to join in the conversation, so I approached. Chris immediately introduced me and I was able to join in the conversation. One of the people is a doctor with her own practice. That was very encouraging. She is someone I can certainly help with getting new clients and as a Dr. I’m sure her office does some printing. It went quite well. Other people eventually joined in the conversations and I realized at some point it was time for me to move on.
I met a few other people and learned about their businesses. I honestly just didn’t feel like I was actually connecting with anyone. I was talking, but I didn’t feel any connection. Someone I know joined in on one particular conversation I was having and without any prompting, began expressing to everyone in the small group that he finds my services for a quarter of what I charge on the internet. He wasn’t doing it to be mean. He is unfortunately just an ignorant person. He turned off each of the people in that group of 5, who proceeded to walk away with a bad taste in their mouth. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little angry, but I let it go and finished off the evening speaking to a friend of mine for the final 30 minutes of the event.
When I left, I asked myself if I had gotten any real value out of the event. I honestly felt like I hadn’t. The food had been good and I got to see a couple of friends, so I decided to leave it at that. The next day I sent emails to the people I had met. I said it had been nice to meet them. If there was something I could point out from our conversation, I made sure to bring it up in the email, although briefly. I didn’t ask for anything. I only said I hope to see you again soon.
That night, I was working in my home office. It was after 6 O’clock and dinner was almost ready. My cell phone began to ring. It was a number I didn’t recognize, but I decided to answer it. It happened to be one of the people I had met the night before. We had spoken for 5 minutes at the most, but he seemed like a very nice man.
“Hi Joe. This is Charlie. We met last night at the chamber event. I sell real estate, if you remember.”
“Hi Charlie. Of course I remember you. I sent you an email earlier today. I hope you received it.” I responded.
“I did receive it. Joe, my wife owns a business that is moving locations next week. One of the things they have forgotten to take care of is getting their stationary and marketing material printed with the new address. I just got a really good feeling from you last night and when I received your email today, I knew you would be the right guy to help my wife out of this mess. I’m going to put her on the phone now.”
Charlie put his wife on the phone and we scheduled a time to meet.
Am I going to get more value from that event than just a free meal and some good conversation? Absolutely! Most times, things aren’t really as bad as they first appear.