When Mint Social was started back in 2008, I was a networking animal. I joined, helped launch and attended many networking groups: AZIMA, AZIGG, Power Networking, North Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, AZ Tech Council, AMA Phoenix and would add new events to the mix each week (referencing Networking Phoenix calendar to expand my networking opportunities). I have to admit that my number one goal from networking was to get new business, period. Thankfully, many prior years of pressing the flesh helped me understand that networking is best done by being a giver and going out of your way to connect people together and/or being a referral source to other businesses.
Fast-forward to today, I hear more and more serial networkers cutting back on the number of events they go to because the results are not there. So what has changed? The feedback I have gotten for choosing a networking event to attend looks like this:
- Breakfast Networking – Getting up early weeds out the serious from the more socially oriented and is better for connecting with like-minded business people.
- Lunch Networking – The Book “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi is a great guide to networking best practices and attending lunch events provides that one-on-one face time that can result in quality connections and opportunities.
- Evening Networking – This is where the social side collides with your business agenda. As a rule of thumb, look for opportunities that are more educational and have speakers vs. a happy hour social event with no agenda (there are exceptions here).
What is unique about the Phoenix metropolitan area is that we are more of a giant suburb than a large city and we think nothing of driving 30 miles across town to attend an event or have a business meeting. However, we are factoring in the costs as to where we go and where we invest our time. Now more than ever, the opportunity cost of attending networking events is being weighed by the net result vs. the gross number of connections made and the amount of follow-up work this creates.
As we are increasing our online social networking and social media activities, we are also following the same line of quality over quantity with our connections. I see more and more people cutting back their Facebook contacts to create a more intimate sharing experience and using filtering tools in Twitter and using circles in Google+ to monitor the connections that are most relevant to us. This filtering approach for social media brings us one step closer to finding the right opportunities to invest our time into (online and offline).
My parting thought is a flashback from my college days where my soon to be fraternity brothers told our pledge class, “Know many, trust few, trust us.”
For social media and networking, it is all about quality over quantity. We are looking for the relevant few to connect with that will make a difference with our business (and our personal lives).