The world is filled with conferences, open houses, receptions, galas, industry nights, summits—in short, networking events. With a finite amount of time, money and energy how do you know which to attend? How do you decide? Which one will pay off? Which event will enable you to meet that one person who is going to give you your break, your first round of funding, or the job you want? Is it the prestigious conference on the West Coast that is going to cost you five thousand dollars or will it be a free local arts event? It is actually hard to tell and the truth is we cannot know. But there is a way to decide. Culled from years of experience attending events and interviews with venture capitalists (of all things), here are the top three points that can help you invest in yourself and take risks like a pro.
1. Don’t just make one bet
There just may be that one event where all the people you need to meet are attending, that has incredible access, and that you have heard great things about: however, if it demands that you spend all your resources for the year on one event, don’t do it. The key to meeting the right people is about going to as many events as possible, not going to the one perfect event. It’s a numbers game and by betting once decreases your chances of winning drop significantly.
2. Expect to fail
When a venture capitalists invest in ten companies, they expect to lose their money on half of their investments, to break even on two, to make a modest sum on one or two and, hopefully, to have runaway successes on the others. Apply this principal to all the events you attend. By doing so, you will expect less from each event, be more relaxed, build real relationships, and eventually find that one win you need.
3. Pay More and Play Less
If you are going to events every night and still not meeting the people you need, then it is time to pay a little more (be it in energy, time, or money) and play a little less. A good way of thinking about this concept is by adding up all the money and time you are prepared to commit and divide it between six or eight events. Aim to spend all your resources that year across only those events. Paying a little more for one or a little less for another enables you, no matter how you divide it up, to find that elusive balance.
So how do you do it? What are your secrets and how do you decide where to go with a limited amount money, time and energy to invest? I am eager to hear and learn.