Why I stopped going to business networking events

(Read the whole ‘Becoming a Connector’ series)

The reason I stopped attending business networking events wasn’t the standing up and talking to people, or meeting strangers. That’s something I love doing, and an important set of communication skills for a ‘Connector’.

There are a number of reasons why I stopped, which I’ll go into detail later in this article, but here’s the main one; It was the energy I was investing in it.

  • Driving is mostly frustrating and stressful
  • The early mornings exhaust me 
  • I was investing my time in preparing for each event
  • I was wasting my mental energy

I used to put myself through a lot of shit multiple times every week, for years, which I’ll go into more detail throughout this article.

Let’s start with this typical scenario…

It’s 6:15am on a Thursday morning, and my alarm clock wakes me up.

I’m tired.

I’m already running late because I hit snooze on my alarm clock twice.

I live in Scotland so it’s pitch black and freezing outside. Not the most motivating reason to go outside early in the morning.

I’ve still got to iron a polo shirt, just so I don’t look like I’ve slept on the couch in my clothes all night.

When I’m finally ready to leave the house I can’t get out fast enough. My keys, my glasses and my wallet aren’t where I left them last night.

It’s already a nightmare of a day and I haven’t even left the house.

When I get outside my car looks like an igloo. I have to scrape the ice off my car before I’m ready to drive anywhere.

As my ass hits the cold leather seat, I realise I haven’t got enough fuel to get where I’m going.

This means a detour to the closest petrol garage, which is obviously the most expensive garage in the area. I get there and I realise I haven’t got any money in my personal bank account for fuel.

I’m now late for the morning business networking event, and not only that I’m frustrated and I’ve used up a lot of my valuable energy.

…and let’s not start talking about driving in traffic – why do people put themselves through this every day! What a complete waste of time.

All of this up adds up to one grumpy, stressed out and tired Chris.

Most of all, my morning ‘creative time’ is being sacrificed, which is supposed to be a priority for me. This is probably the thing that got to me in the end – knowing that I could be sitting in my home office, with a good cup of coffee, reading, writing and growing my business.

Why was I doing this to myself??

Well, because everyone else is doing it, and they told me that this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to go to networking, it’s how you grow your business.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Chris, you are so disorganised! All you need to do is organise yourself better and you’ll enjoy it.”

You’re not wrong, but here’s the thing. The reason I’m disorganised is because I’m disinterested. I don’t care. It’s not for me. It’s not what I want to do with my time.

Maybe you feel the same as I did?

It took me two years to figure out that I hate being held to an early morning meeting schedule. I took me two years to fully appreciate that this is my business, and I can run it any way I want to.

  • I don’t have to start ‘work’ at 9am
  • I don’t have to take meetings in the morning
  • I don’t have to drive in rush hour traffic

What became abundantly clear is that I needed more control of my time.

Mornings are important to me, and they should be important to you too. And before you say it, I know networking can be done at lunch time and in the evenings. I also went to them, and 95% of what I share here is valid to my experience with those too.

Did you know that it’s the two hour window two hours after you wake up that’s you most creative time?*

This is an important window of time for anyone who creates for a living…and back when I was sacrificing this time to eat a shitty breakfast in a function room of a hotel in front of people that I don’t like all that much…and I’m almost certain they didn’t give a shit about me.

*I tried to find a source for this but I couldn’t find it – I’m pretty sure it was James Altucher that said this, on a podcast maybe. If you know, let me know at chris@cmauk.co.uk.

In short, I got so pissed off wasting my time running around the country going to business networking events, which 95% of were, quite frankly, a total waste of my time.

Also, it was all the same people, and I felt like I wasn’t meeting the right kind of people (more on this further on).

So, I quit business networking. And I ain’t going back.

This is why people told me I should attend networking events:

  • You never know what opportunities you are missing by not attending networking events, so turn up to as many events as you can. Hands down, the worst advice ever. There are opportunities everywhere, only a small percentage will be found in these rooms.
  • People do business with people they know, like, and trust. This is true, but it’s not a business case for going to business networking events.
  • You need to establish yourself in the local area (awareness, visibility, etc), and you do this by going to networking events. Simply not true. You don’t need to do either of these things .You can build your business outside of your local area, and you can build your business more effectively by not going to local networking events.

Can we be honest with each other? Do you think the most successful people in business today are attending local business networking events? The answer is no, they aren’t. Don’t get me wrong, they are building and growing their network, but they don’t do it by going to networking events.

I agree with what Ramit Sethi said in this article:

“First of all, I don’t want to go networking either,” Sethi said. “Slick my hair back, find business cards and go talk to a bunch of people who I don’t even want to know — why do I want to waste my evening doing that? Who wants to be there? Nobody!”

“Instead of going to meet a bunch of nobodies, I would love to spend that time — all that time — doing a lot of research and reaching out to one great person who could completely change my life”

Read the whole article

This is exactly the shift I made, and the case I want to make to you.

You do not have to go to networking events to grow your business.

I went from attending 100s of networking events, to using my very valuable time using different strategies to connect with the right kind of people. I now have total control of my time, and the people I meet.

As a result, my business and network has thrived and flourished by NOT attending networking events. I’m building a global network.

I want you to see ‘networking’ as a completely different activity, and this requires a shift in mindset.

Business networking and network growth are two different things entirely.

I’ve attended 200+ networking events in my time as a business owner.

Here are the reasons, in full, why I stopped attending them:

  • I wasn’t meeting the right people. Most people were not really ‘into’ what I was doing. Most of them didn’t have a fucking clue about marketing, never mind content marketing.
  • I got tired of it. It’s soul destroying. I love meeting and working with people, but after a short while it got flat. I needed to meet a different level of people.
  • People have almost zero ambition – most people are coasting in their business and aren’t interested in growth. This does not interest me.
  • Most people don’t give a shit about it. They turn up because they are supposed to. Mostly unprepared, typically late, and frequently absent. What you start to realise is that most people are incompetent and want everything to be handed to them on a plate.
  • It’s mostly about referring business to other people that you don’t really know that well, and this does not interest me. I strongly believe that this is not the single purpose of ‘business networking’. Also, most of the referrals are bullshit, never turning into business. A waste of everyone’s time.
  • I can’t recall a single person that asked me a single question about how they could help me find the right connections for me. Not one single person. Emphasising my earlier point – I wasn’t meeting the right kind of people.

You might be asking yourself the exact same questions I was in 2015…and maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and decide to make the change today.

Or maybe you need more convincing? If so, keep an eye on my blog over the coming weeks and months as I share with you all the learning I’ve done, and the strategies I use to grow and strengthen my network in a way that most people I know don’t.

I’m probably going to be talking about these things:

  • The difference between business networking and network growth
  • The systems and processes I use to manage and grow my network
  • The mindset required for network growth
  • Stories from people in my network that have successfully put into to practice my teachings
  • Personal organisation, schedule management, and email management
  • How to make and receive introductions, and manage the whole process
  • Leadership, communication skills, and the etiquette required
  • Segmenting your network into priority based lists
  • What events you should be attending, why, and how to get the most from them
  • How content marketing and social media help to build your network
  • …and a tonne of other resources, hints and tips to help you become a connector of great people

Over the past year I’ve been sharing my strategies with those in my Membership Community. They see everything first, sometimes months in advance. I’ve been helping them to see a better way to grow, and give and receive value from their network.

We think differently, and that’s what separates us from everyone else.

Read the whole series on ‘Becoming a Connector’.

Got a question? Email me at chris@cmauk.co.uk, or drop into the comments section below.

DFTBA!

Chris.

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About Chris Marr

Chris is the leading voice of the growing Content Marketing movement in the UK. His pioneering work has helped countless organisations grow through content marketing. His drive comes from a desire to help people break free from the world of interruption marketing.