Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Are Networking Events Still Worth Attending? - May 23, 2015

Although the question seems rather simple, I find it can be difficult to answer at times. Are networking events still worth attending? I am asked this question time and time again. And, at least for the past few years, here is my answer…It Depends.


Generally speaking, I have always been a fan of the networking event, but with careful consideration of the event itself. You see, many believe that any event that drawls people together, especially at a bar or restaurant, is considered a networking event. You are networking to meet people, right? Well yes, at least in part. But, all too often, this is simply a way for a sales person to socially interact on their company’s dime. The sales person is tricking themselves into believing this is time well spent and that their agenda of meeting new people is being upheld.

Ok, so you’ve met new people. Who are they? What role in their organization do they hold? Are they a decision maker, or an influencer at the very least, that can open a door for you? Or, are they a peer? That’s right, are they another sales person, from another company, trying to do that same as you?


All too often networking events end up being peer events where everyone hangs out, shakes hands, grabs a beer, and swaps stories. There is no real networking involved and so when this occurs my answer becomes, very quickly, no these types networking events are no longer worth attending. Go grab a beer on your own dime with your friends. So, when are they worth attending?


Using the term networking is somewhat loose in my answer, but a good networking event is one in which you have specifically planned ahead and targeted because you know you will have less peer pressure and more opportunity to meet a decision maker. How do you scout out these events you may ask yourself? The answer is rather simple, stay out of your own industry, and attend the events that are designed around your target prospects industry. For example, if your end goal is to meet CFO’s, well then, go to accounting and finance oriented events, such as a CFO of the year award sponsored by your local business publications. Or, if you target CIO/CTO level decision makers, attend larger, nationally sponsored events that cater to this audience, such as one sponsored by Microsoft, Oracle or Cisco.


The goal of networking is simple: put yourself in a place where you are guaranteed to meet at least one decision maker. In doing so you can always ask yourself whether this event or that event increases the odds that you walk out with a “real introduction” and if you cannot answer with confidence that it is likely you will succeed then the networking event is not for you.

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