The Frustrations of In-Person Networking Meetings
Contributor
Written by
Melanie Green
June 2016
Contributor
Written by
Melanie Green
June 2016

As a writer, I consider myself a business professional. In general, I offer a service that consumers or businesses use. In fact, I've spent the past 6 or so years writing professionally. When I first started trying to get freelance writing assignments, I went to many local networking meetings to connect with local businesses. I wanted to learn about "business," since I really only knew about writing. I dreamed of meeting my tribe of people looking to propel their businesses forward together. The only trouble is, networking meetings in real life aren't like this at all.

With the exception of one networking group with a purpose to educate women in their businesses, I find the same frustrations with in-person networking.

What Constitutes a Business?

One of the biggest issues I have with in-person networking groups is how diverse attendees were in terms of what counted as a business. Direct sales people, realtors, women who made baskets to sell on Etsy, paralegals, large corporations and people who occasionally made friends' wedding cakes sat together. I would have preferred if networking meetings were more targeted: work-at-home moms, brick and mortar stores and e-commerce retailers. We would have had more in common to talk about.

Bad Sales Tactics

Most of the time, members tried to sell to other members. Nobody focused on building a healthy relationship with each other. Instead, one-off sales tactics that drove people away were used. I find this rarely works. I think that if you want to cultivate long-term business, it's worth investing time in the local or virtual community around you. When people know about you and invested time in you, they'll remember you when they actually have a need for your service.

Repetitive or Ill-Targeted Sales Proposals

Because people don't take the time to get to know you, they approach you with sales proposals you're not interested in. At a networking meeting I frequented, a travel agent kept harassing me to book a cruise with her. I hate cruises. The idea of being confined in a ship makes me want to vomit. Despite knowing this (since I said this to her literally every time she mentioned it), she continued to ask me to book a cruise with her. Finally, I broke down. I asked if she booked anything else, like plane travel. She said she did. I asked if I could do that instead. She said she didn't really sell plane-based travel because she preferred cruises. Not only did she harass me for a long time wasting her time, I wasn't the right target for her.

Have you faced problems with in-person networking meetings? Voice them in the comments section. I have found that online communities like this one are often far more effective for networking purposes.

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