Some time ago, I attended a niche networking group that had a relatively small number of participants. They had changed locations and not everyone was aware of the new meeting area. I had several reasons for attending this particular meeting (close to home, interesting theme) but I was a bit disappointed by the turnout. Oddly enough, I’ve avoided networking events with “too many” people.
However, I thought about this event compared to other events I’ve attended. When it comes to networking, the number of participants is not that important to the success. One could argue that more people will produce a greater chance of meeting potential clients or a great lead. I’ve met people who treat it like a numbers game (or the bar scene) – meet enough people and you will eventually score.
The only number that matters is 1. You are the key to your networking success. Your approach will determine whether you succeed. One valuable tip on networking that I was taught, and that I tell others, is that you should treat it like developing a relationship. Get to know a person, and they’ll trust you to refer you to their friends and acquaintances. I’ve found that the people I meet generally do not need my services. But there is a very high likelihood that they know someone who would. The person you network with is one person, but they have a network of many contacts, who also have networks of contacts.
As usual, it’s about quality, not quantity. You will have more success establishing a strong relationship with one person than you will exchanging business cards and pleasantries with many people. One great networking relationship will take you a long way.