The Vanguard View: Insight for Association Websites

Guest Post: Building Relationships is a Process, Not an Event

Posted by Chris Bonney on Mon, Feb 01, 2010


describe the imageWhenever I ask people what their #1 reason for attending an event is, the answer is always "networking". Millions of people attend business events every year – more than 80 million people attended business events in 2007 in the US alone. Does this mean that every attendee actually realizes the benefits of networking and is successful in building lasting relationships? Do we always get a true return on the time, money and energy we spend on these events? Unfortunately, the answer is usually no.

Why? The simple answer is that networking is a process, not something you do once at an event. We need to re-frame networking as a brick-by-brick building process, needing careful thought, planning and time rather than a one-time sporadic thing at an event. Events play a big role in providing a platform to kick-start the process of building and enhancing business relationships.

Events are neither the start nor the end for building relationships.

The key is to start the relationship-building process way in advance of actually attending the event. And you continue building step-by-step after the event.

Here are some tips to plan for your next event:

    • More than anything, remember that networking requires preparation and planning. So set aside time for that work.

    • Research and find out who is attending the event.

    • Find out why they are attending the event. If you do your job well, you will understand what problems these attendees are trying to solve by attending the event.

    • Now determine what solutions you can offer when you meet the attendees in person.

    • Start connecting with people who are potential attendees on social networks before the event.

    • Set aside some quality time (in advance) to meet with people you want to build relationships with (networking is not just casually saying “Hi,” speaking for a few minutes and exchanging business cards).

Here are few things you can do during the event:

    • Be prepared for the meetings that you have arranged.

    • Be curious to learn more. Listen to learn.

    • Try to understand how you can help the person you are meeting. Networking is more about what you give as opposed to what's in it for you.

    • At the end of the meeting, if you listed some specific action items, be sure to follow up later.

Here are some tips on how you can continue to build relationships after you attend the event:

    • More than anything, follow through with your commitments even if it is just returning their phone calls or emails.

    • Do more research on the people, their companies and what their objectives and desires are.

    • Reach out to them by offering something of value.

    • When appropriate, connect with them on social networks like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

    • Connect new people with people in your existing network to help both parties increase their reach.

Repeat this often and you are off to a great start in building lifetime relationships.

describe the imageHari Shetty is the founder and CEO of Jiffle, a company that provides online member-to-member event networking software called AttendeeConnect. Find out more about AttendeeConnect.

Topics: twitter, facebook, social media, Events, networking, event

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