Networking Is Out – Relationship Building Is In

Last night I attended my first Vistage* group dinner since before the pandemic hit, and it felt absolutely amazing to be around my peers in person again. We mixed and mingled outside over cocktails to get started, and while there was some talk about business (we’re all business owners), most of the conversation was about our lives.

Then we ventured inside for dinner and once seated there was less opportunity for mingling. I spend the meal chatting with those on either side of me about a variety of things – one being that someone other than me was crazy enough to get a puppy during the pandemic when they already had a dog at home. 😂

And as the evening wound down and people started trickling out to head home, some made plans to connect offline about something that had come up in conversation, but for the most part we were all just happy to be together again in person.

If one thing became clear through the course of the pandemic, it’s that we all need connection. I’d like to take that one step further through and add the word “meaningful” to the mix. In the old days of networking events, there was always that one person with the cheesy business version of a “pick up line” who worked the room and handed out a slew of cards and we never called. And there was always that one person we had a more in depth conversation with that we may not have called right away, but we remembered when we needed a particular service because the connection was meaningful.

One of my goals from day 1 of my business launch last year was to make 3 connections a week. Sometimes it’s with someone new thanks to LinkedIn or Lunchclub. Sometimes it’s with someone I already know, but haven’t talked to in a while. Sometimes it’s through attending a virtual event and scheduling a follow up conversation with another attendee. But no matter who it is, the whole point is to have a meaningful conversation and build a relationship. It’s not about a quick sales pitch, or agreeing to mutual referrals, it’s about building a community of like-minded business owners who value people and relationships. And when it does come time to “buy” or “sell”, we have the opportunity to do business with those we know, like and trust. ❤️


*You can learn more about Vistage here.

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