To answer this question, I think I need to give you both the good and not so good sides.
- I have discovered a lot of very talented vendors by networking. A few years back I discovered a fantastic lighting designer in New York, Mr. Ira Levy. He was just getting started and was full of great ideas. However, I have also had a few bad experiences with folks that promised the moon but were not able to deliver.
- Networking can be a great time for market research. You can get a better understanding of how and what your competitors are up to–as long as you do not copy this information. Remember, your goal is to be an original in every way possible.
- If you are just getting started, I think industry networking is a great way to get your feet wet. However, be very careful with those many exhibits that promise you’re going to get clients. This is not as easy as it sounds.
The Not So Good
- If you are expecting to find clients by networking in the industry, you better be ready to give something in return. Either extreme talent or reciprocating recommendations.
- Networking in the industry can be a great way to form strong alliances with other vendors. However, be careful about other vendor’s motives. (Yes, I know I sound a bit paranoid, but one day I’ll tell you a few stories about this one.)
Personally, I am a bit of an introvert by nature. I find it very challenging to be out there constantly networking. However, I think it could be a great way to bring us industry folks together and support each other.
Do you have any tips for networking? Please share your best below.