Column: You don't have to network alone
Photo by Steve Ford Elliott
A lot of people have a hard time walking into a networking event all by themselves. To them it feels as if all eyes are upon them and they are vastly outnumbered. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk in with a friend instead? Suddenly you aren't in a room of strangers. You'll always know at least the buddy you walked in with.
So, why not do that?
Actually, networking with a partner can have a variety of benefits, if done properly. The main thing to remember is that you and your friend are not there to network with each other. You could have done that at the coffee shop you saw on the way to the event. Instead you are there as a team to augment each other's already stellar networking talents.
So what sorts of benefits could you gain from having a "wingman"?
- Moral support. OK, let's face it. It is a lot easier walking into a crowded room with a friend than it is walking in alone.
- Accountability, part 1. If you plan to attend a given event, you are far less likely to blow it off if you know your buddy will be there waiting for you.
- Accountability, part 2. If you share your goals for the event, you can each report to the other as to how well you did.
- Education. An experienced networker can teach the novice a lot about good networking practice by merely being a good example.
- Coverage. With two of you working separately you can cover more of the room and have the opportunity to meet more people who would be good to add to your networks.
- Introductions. Where one partner has attended this event in the past, they will be able to introduce all of the people they've already met to their networking partner.
- Relationship strengthening. Working together as a team will strengthen the ties between partners, despite the fact that you won't be directly networking with each other.
With all these benefits, it almost doesn't make sense to ever attend an event alone. So, take a look at your calendar and see what events you'll be attending in the upcoming weeks. Then take a look at your address book to see who would benefit from attending with you.
Even if they decline, they know you were thinking about them and their success. Chalk one up in the "win" column for you!