The Savvy Networker: When to Pass on an Industry Event
Almost every career expert can agree that networking is essential for careerists. With that advice, some may feel like you can’t get enough of a good thing. Running here and there, and attending every event possible is not the best strategy. Savvy networkers know when to pass on a networking event. The following are a few examples.

When the group is not relevant.

Not every event is going to support your career goal. If the sponsoring group and attendees are not related to your occupation and industry, it may be a waste of your valuable time.

When interaction opportunity is low.

Some events are designed to promote interaction, sharing, and networking. Other events, particularly educational or vendor presentations have little opportunity for interaction. If you are assertive, you might be able to meet your seatmates or approach a few people in the lobby. If your goal is to network, choose events that foster interaction.

When you are not feeling your best.

If you have a nasty cold or cough, it is best for you to skip the networking event. The same applies if you are exhausted or feeling ill. You might be able to muster up the strength to make it, but other people don’t want to be exposed to someone who is under the weather. Networking is a chance to let your personality and enthusiasm shine. If you are feeling less than 100%, you will not leave a favorable impression. Save your energy for another event where you will be memorable in a good way.

When you could be more productive elsewhere.

Always weigh your options. Engage in the activity that is most productive. For example, if you go to an event where you will likely see the same people you saw last month and will see again next month, you might opt to skip it in favor of scheduling a client visit where you can interact with a handful of valuable contacts.

When past experience indicates the event will be unproductive.

Let’s say you have attended a national conference for the last eight years. Each year, you leave without opening new doors and expanding your network. These past results are an indication that you are either not “working your network” or that the event is not a productive networking opportunity for you.

The Bottom Line

Networking is one of the best things you can do to build your career. There are so many organizations, activities, and events competing for your time. Use the above criteria to increase your efficiency by wisely selecting where you spend time. Be careful not to repeatedly miss networking opportunities in favor of catching up on work. You’ll always be busy and making time for networking is critical. If you are savvy when making your networking choices, you’ll find it easier to make time to network, which will lead to valuable connections and relationships.