I went to a couple of networking events recently, intent on working them in “pay it forward (PIF)” mode and I have to admit that I liked the results. The part I liked the most is there were people I actually could help.
My process was pretty much what Sandy Jones-Kaminski suggests in her book “I’m at a Networking Event, Now What???” I simply walked up to people asking some variation on the question, “How can I help?” and found a variety of folks that I actually could provide some help. For a few it was simply asking the question, “How can I help?” and they relaxed and started talking about why they were there. For one person it was direct useful feedback about his elevator pitch; for others it was a variety of other things. One person has become a client. She’s looking for a new job and that is, of course, what I do.
The point is that using this simple approach allowed me to have a very productive couple of hours. It’s so simple. It’s so easy to be intimidated at a networking event, or have expectations that are uncomfortable or a million other things. My first experience of one of these left me very cold as my regular readers might recall, but simply turning the process into a “PIF” event and it totally takes that pressure off.
Success is measured by the number of cards I get, not the number I give. Afterwards, my tasks are pretty straight forward; short intro/thank you/follow up notes to the people who gave me a card. If something more develops, perfect, if not, I did my part. I did what I could do.