Are you just not a “networking” person? Does the idea of attending events make you cringe? Or, after years of mingling at industry functions, are you feeling burned out? PR professional and writer Ed Zitron can relate. In an article for Mattermark, Zitro details his distaste for traditional networking, writing that today’s networking events are typically  “a mostly profit-centric or ego-centric hell.” He reasons that throwing a ton of people together in a crowded room is as distant as shooting out an email.

In his article, Zitro highlights the best venues where your networking can be more personal and effective:

  • One on one.
  • An intimate dinner with no more than eight like-minded people.
  • Casual drinks at a place everyone likes and can hear each other.
  • If you’re at a conference, in a private room or at least off away from the crowds.

Unsure of just how to get past the generic, free-for-all of today’s networking events? Zitro has some suggestions, including:

Try and get an introduction, then ask to meet her for coffee or drinks

Zitro points out that rarely will you close a deal in just one meeting — especially when you’re trying to talk over the loud chatter of others. Instead, after the initial meeting at an event, try to set up a second meeting that is just one-on-one. Removed from a crowd and in a non-work-related environment, you have a better chance of having a quality discussion.

Don’t set an agenda

It sounds odd, but don’t go into a networking “date” with a set schedule of to-dos. Instead, have an idea of what you hope to accomplish with the meeting and a hoped-for outcome. “Most likely, you are going to have this meeting and it will lead to an email or phone follow-up,” Zitro writes. “This meeting is not going to get you exactly what you want, ever.” So be flexible and leave the strict agenda for another time.

Check out Zitro’s entire article for the rest of his tips, and use them to make networking work better for you!