Recently, I made it to a networking event. Entrepreneurial-minded folks really get a kick out of get-togethers like these. It gives the opportunity to meet new advisers, hear new ideas, and (most importantly) meet potential clients. But the trouble is, many of the aforementioned events end up being more like a business card distribution session. Everyone talks to everyone, gives out their card, and encourages a phone call if the other person is in need of the service they offer. Then they go home with a bundle of indistinguishable contacts, toss the stack of cards on the dresser, and the relationship is (most often) over.
I saw that approach as generic and not worth much, so I took a different angle:
Before the event, I went to the bank and got a dozen Susan B. Anthony dollars. Then I intentionally left my business cards at home. Consequently, conversations at the event went something like this:
Networker: “Hey, I’m Networker!” *vigorously shakes hands*
Me: “I’m Benjamin, good to meet you!”
N: “I run a firm that specializes in development and design of software that services under-served communities by trumping the issues of crime, hunger, and irregular climate change. Here’s my card; let me know if you ever run into any poor communities that need my help! Do you have a card?”
Me: “Nope, I don’t.
*A few seconds of awkward silence while N glances around for nearest opportunity to disappear*