I have been networking for a very long time. In fact, most of my daily business activities consist of nothing but networking. Since my main responsibility is to develop new business, it is important for me to surround myself with like minded individuals who are also looking to develop strong, referral-based relationships with strategic business partners.
As a result, I have found it beneficial to belong to networking groups whose members are required to attend meetings on a regular basis. These meetings tend to be more structured and require much more accountability than other networking groups and are usually held in the early morning or at lunchtime. On the other hand, evening networking events usually consist of individuals who may not network as frequently. These events tend to be more informal and much less structured.
Through the years, I have participated in morning, lunch and evening networking functions and find that they are all beneficial in their own way. The important thing is to know and evaluate the business development needs of your business and determine from that, when you need to be available for your clients and when your work responsibilities require you to be in the office.
Therefore, it is not a one-size-fits-all scenario! For example, those in the contracting business may be better off networking first thing in the morning since these meetings usually start very early and end just in time for them to begin their work day. Others may need to be in their office first thing in the morning and would therefore be ready to take a break at lunchtime.
In the end, everyone must choose the networking group or event that works best for them. It’s also important to note that everyone’s networking needs and habits do change and evolve over time. So, it’s safe to say that networking is an ever-changing function of business development that requires creativity and flexibility. The possibilities are endless!