If you venture on to meetup.com you could find a mind-blowing array of events that all look potentially interesting, you could, in fact, be networking for breakfast, mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon, early evening and dinner or even supper. Convincing ourselves that we are connected and ‘on it’ as we go to our ‘digital content marketing masterclass workshop for pivoting tech entrepreneurs’ with an ‘award winning’ startup tech guru speaking about their ‘top 9 1/2 tips to gain more followers for GUARANTEED success’.
There are more events now than you can shake a stick at, whatever shaking a stick at things means and why on earth you would be shaking a stick at things even.
Anyway, back on track, selecting the right event.
The point is there is an event overload and we’ve all digested a glut of business success books, blogs, workshops, podcasts, and ‘gurus’ on networking and events. All of them offering certainty, thus allowing our instant gratification culture to be satisfied with the idea of a shortcut to success, a handy bypass to hard work, patience, and commitment. The certainty of the assured success from attending events and networking.
We are brainwashed into thinking we need to get out there and network and hustle. We have to polish our elevator pitch, fine tune our presenting skills, learn the art of ‘jab’ ‘jab’ ‘jab’ ‘right hook’ the Gary V school of ‘giving’ and then bang right hook them. Essentially cynically manipulating people to buy our shit by artificially creating this aura of being a ‘giver’, another buzz strategy like suddenly we all need to be ‘authentic’, great we’ve now decided honesty is a great sales ploy.
We are sold the ‘meet, like, know, trust’ mantra and you have to ‘show up to be in it’ or ‘in it to win it’ or is it ‘init’? who knows!! or cares either.
What happens is vast numbers of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and independents (some are aka as ‘highly connected’ poor people without real work pretending to be reimagining something) fresh with the pearls of wisdom of their guru sounding in their heads flock to the plethora of guaranteed ‘diamond’ mines often known as networking events you pay for. OK so at some you might get a slice of pizza, a chocolate digestive or if you pay you might get hash browns and baked beans.
But before you give up your precious time, think about the event, question what will I really get from this? Detach yourself from the well-versed fear laden sales patter and the carefully crafted testimonials ‘I’ve tripled my business in 3 months’ or ‘can you afford not to be here?’.
Look at the 2 most important goals that you have for your business or work right now. Look at the tools available to you and look at the opportunity cost of your time.
If you take those most important business goals and then measure the 2 hours or more you might spend at an event and weigh up what it is really adding.
Ditch the ‘any benefit’ approach that we all seem to have adopted not just to attending events but to almost everything we do in life. Having one benefit is not really a smart way to adopt something. Jumping off a cliff has a benefit, free-falling is exciting, but there are several more damaging downsides too. Go deeper and look at the downsides too and look at how it is impacting on your most important work goal.
Just because you might have a ‘useful’ chat with someone over a full English breakfast does not warrant using up several hours that you could be doing focused work on your most important business goals.
Have you ever wondered why you never tend to meet the really top achievers in business at a networking breakfast or a generic workshop? Perhaps they are busy working on more focused stuff or attending events with more than ‘a benefit’ such as a free gift bag.
The right events could be, for example, the ones that offer real value to you, where they perhaps offer a chance to learn an important new skill, where they are providing learning that is crucial to your goals, where they are specific to your needs rather than general advice, where they will connect you with like-minded people who are not there selling you their shit to improve their ROI on a membership they have just bought.
It is, of course, very subjective as to what a good event is and whether or not you need to attend. It’s not for me to say what events are good or not as this is personal to the individual.
However, do not expect much impact or return for your business if you do not invest time in selecting events that match your most important business goals. Having a nebulous benefit from an event is not enough, sure free tea or a slice of pizza is nice and swapping cards feels like connecting, but it will not help build your business or develop yourself.
Focused hard work on your most important goals is the committed way to success, it takes time and it takes sacrificing the more easy, superficial, popular, and instantly gratifying array of events that we can get sucked into.
If an event has many clear benefits that are aligned with the goals that will propel you and your business to where you want and those benefits far outweigh any downsides, then get along to the event.
If not, then do the things that will make a difference to your goals instead.