Why in-person networking events can fail

Why in-person networking events can fail

How many times have you walked out of a business networking event and felt it didn’t deliver on your objectives?

Perhaps you got stuck in a well-meaning but ultimately long and fruitless conversation with a guest whose company has a similar offer to your own. Maybe you took a colleague along to the event and spent the whole event talking to them, as there didn’t appear to be an opportunity to really talk to anyone else. Maybe the other attendees present weren’t the correct audience for you (for whatever reason).

In-person networking events have long been regarded as valuable opportunities to expand professional networks and foster meaningful connections, but they can fall short. This article explores the reasons why and provides some thoughts and insights into maximizing networking effectiveness.

The audience/attendee list or hosting company is wrong (for you)

You may be looking for partners, clients, suppliers or future employers from a networking event. Whatever you need, make sure whatever group of people you are looking for is likely to be there. If this information isn’t available ask the event organiser, or look at previous attendees from the same event (if this is publicly available and the event is recurring). A clear focus on who else is or may be attending the event is never time wasted.

The organiser has not provided any networking opportunities for you

A networking event that provides no structured, helpful opportunities for networking can be intimidating, random and involve no small degree of pot-luck. What, specifically, is the organiser doing to help you network?

There is a lack of purposeful engagement

All parties (including you) should have a clear objective and targeted approach in a networking event. What information do you need to share, what information do you want to receive, and how will this information be shared? Be clear about what you do and don’t need and schedule times for follow ups post event (and agree these follow ups in the event).

Networking fatigue and clichés

Anyone attending multiple networking events will know what we mean here. Will that seventh networking event that hasn’t delivered useful connections for you before do so the eighth time around? If your networking routes aren’t working, mix it up.

If you want to put missed networking opportunities to bed, please take a look at our wine tasting & networking game The Fine Wine Connector.

Pip Martin is the Founder of The Tasting Quarter, a Corporate Wine Tasting & Specialist Events Company. After management positions in Harrod’s Foodhall, Pip became Corporate Events Manager at Richard Branson’s online wine merchant, Virgin Wines, where he hosted over 200 wine events in a little over 15 months for companies including BBC, Morgan Stanley, PricewaterhouseCoopers and JP Morgan. Since 2002, via The Tasting Quarter, Pip and his team have produced and hosted tastings in South Africa, Dubai, Morocco, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Finland and Switzerland for groups of 10 to 3000+. He has run virtual, hybrid and AI augmented tastings for companies including AVMI, Oracle, Adobe, Google and Cisco. He also counts all the Magic Circle law firms in the UK as repeat clients for in-person events. Pip’s media work has included wine presenting on Sky One’s Taste programme and BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. Writing credits include wine articles for Condé Nast’s Gourmet Travel and Esquire.