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Which is the best way to network professionally: 1-on-1 meetings, or large events/conferences?

Alan Jones's Profile


Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

Ultimately it comes down to one-to-one networking ... even if you are meeting people at a large event or conference. Nothing significant or substantial happens in an initial meeting except a business card exchange and the ability to put a face with a name. The power of the contact is in the one-to-one that happens afterwards.

Topic Expert
Mike Caruana
Title: Director of Financial Services
Company: Diamond Resorts International
(Director of Financial Services, Diamond Resorts International) |

I totally agree with Cindy. The 'networking' activity occurs at meetings, conferences and events, while the real connection mostly happens during the follow up. Obviously, there are those instances where you immediately connect with someone at an event, but that's not likely where you'll get deep enough in your discussion to create a connection you can leverage.

Lastly, networking during the meeting/events/conferences is not usually intended to create a deep connection as much as it is to create the initial contact that can be developed into a business relationship later.

Rob Fernandez
Title: Group Manager
Company: Wells Fargo Technology
(Group Manager, Wells Fargo Technology) |

I find a lot of value in both forms of networking. So often I'll meet someone at a large conference, learn about their business or expertise, and a year or less later find that the person is connected to, or could be valuable or benefit from a new opportunity or situation. The key with conferences and networking events is to select ones that attract the kind of people that you should be meeting. One-on-one usually occurs when there's a particular reason to meet, but also when there's been an introduction and in those instances it's just like any networking opportunity: you never know what will emerge over time. The important thing in all cases is to be of value, be willing to be a resource for another persons success. A quid pro quo attitude in any networking situation bears fruit more often.

James Oates
Title: Owner
Company: James D. Oates, CMA
(Owner, James D. Oates, CMA) |

There are tiers of networking. You network with mid to large size group to find the people with which you meet on on one. That is not to say that you don't spend some time in larger meetings, however that is not a productive use of your time at a larger group.

Topic Expert
Samuel Dergel
Title: Director - Executive Search
Company: Stanton Chase International
LinkedIn Profile
(Director - Executive Search, Stanton Chase International) |

Let's agree that the worst way to network is to sit at your desk.

I'm a believer that networking without a plan is a waste of time and not effective. It is less about which networking method is better, and more about which networking methods tie in to what you want to accomplish with networking.

Questions that you need to ask yourself are:

- What do you want to accomplish with networking?
- How often do you plan to actively network?
- How many new people do you want to meet?
- What will you do to stay visible and relevant to your network?

These are some questions you need to ask yourself. I'm sure you can think of others.

Ask the questions. Answer them. And stick to your plan.

Your networking will pay you big dividends if you do.


Jeff Langston
Title: CFO
Company: Baxter Franchise Group
(CFO, Baxter Franchise Group) |

Nothing beats 1 on 1 meetings. Shaking hands and sharing something in common is a great way to start a relationship. The challenging part is nurturing it so that you don't go out of touch with the person.

Topic Expert
Cindy Kraft
Title: CFO Coach
Company: Executive Essentials
(CFO Coach, Executive Essentials) |

So true, Jeff. I tell my clients to envision a spider web ... all the strands are connected. There are no hanging, disconnected strands. For networking purposes, you are the spider in the middle of that web. Once someone comes into your network, you must continue to nurture / cultivate / maintain that relationship in some way. The question is, how do/can I accomplish that in a way that is mutually beneficial to both of us?

Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

I agree with Sam. Keep your eye on your goal and be ready to participate in any networking opportunity. Most of the time you will always start with a group before you reach the one-on-one state. So I guess it does not matter which you prefer, as you must be prepared for all situations.


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