Networking events, where you meet other consultants and professional service providers, might sound like a waste of time. Why mingle with other consultants when you can be sniping your next engagement? Mike Haas has the answer in a post at the Institute of Management Consultants USA.
Casting a Big Net
Haas says we need to consider networking events from the perspective of three questions, asked in this order: What is the objective of networking? How do you intend to network? And how valuable is networking? Haas points to a quote by Rich Dad, Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki, who says, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” Put another way, spending all your time trying to go after individual clients is akin to trying to scoop up fish with your bare hands, when you could be investing in a big net to catch a bunch of fish instead. Networks provide you contacts across a wide spectrum to tap into whenever the need avails itself.
When it comes to actual networking events, Haas differentiates:
Regardless of how well these are designed, they are largely semi-structured aggregations of people who, if you are lucky, can connect with each other. This may be what most people mean when they say networking but it is not the same as building a network. This requires defining the people, information, skills, resources and access necessary to keep you current with trends in your industry and discipline. A network is defined, explicit, and intentional. It is also continuously redefined.
The value of your network is defined by how critical it is to allowing you to grow your consulting business. Value is also added by how it provides you backup options when your usual go-to people are unavailable or gone.
For more tips, you can read the original post here: http://www.imcusa.org/blogpost/334056/136310/725-Build-the-Network-You-Think-You-Don-t-Need