Probably everyone reading this has bought a computer at some time, so we are all potential customers for a computer vendor. But it is also most likely that right now you are not looking to buy a computer. Imagine then that you are at an event and you meet someone who provides an interesting service where they can source you a new computer, migrate all of your stuff and then provide fast help with problems for the first few months. Professional users would probably find this service appealing but on any given day most people are simply not looking for a computer.
If you attend an event and pitch your new service to everyone you are very unlikely to meet someone planning to buy right now, so if your goal was to find business you will not achieve it. But if you can get to know some new people and they know that you provide this service then you have some more people who will always keep you in mind. Next time they meet someone who complains that they need a new computer but dread the transition they will suggest to contact you. Yes, this takes time, but it means that when you have met ten new people you are actually connected to maybe hundreds of people in their networks, which is much more valuable than getting their business.
That's why when you attend an event or simply just meet people your goal should not be to look for customers, but to connect with people, even if they will never buy anything from you. You need to know what they do so that you can help them when the opportunity arises and you need to make sure that they know what you do.
Sometimes the most unlikely people actually turn out to be the most useful people in your network. A consultant, for example, might be disheartened to attend an event and find mostly other consultants and few client-side people. Yet very often business for consultants like me comes though other consultants. It happens regularly that clients ask me if I know a consultant who could do something, and if you are in my network I will pass on these requests. Sometimes referrals, jobs and internships come though people who themselves are not directly involved but just happen to hear about them through their network.
Related Posts on Networking:
Why Networking is About Building Relationships (and why "quick pitching" is inefficient)
How to Separate Work and Private Networking
Involuntary Networking: Why First Street is Fascinating but Scary
LinkedIn Etiquette: How to Approach People You Don't Know
Selling Your Ideas: Influencing Your Way to Success
Professional Networking: Five Sites You Should be Using
How to Use Twitter for Professional Networking
Sign Up Now: Joining New Networking Sites Boosts Your Reputation
Zerply: Three Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Sideways
Three Keys to Networking
Lectures, Workshops, Coaching, Writing about Networking
For information about lectures, workshops, coaching and writing on this topic visit andrewhennigan.com, email me at email@example.com or call 0033 6 79 61 42 81