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I hate Chamber of Commerce mixers. It’s not the people – they’re fine. It’s the idea that I have to network.

Somewhere along the line we have taken what should have been a friendly get together to meet and greet our fellow business people and turned it into an Olympic event. It’s almost comical the way some people treat it. You’d think there was a gold medal riding on the number of cards you collect.

I stopped going.

It’s not that I don’t believe networking is important. I just find it easier to congregate with people in small meetings and seminars where the focus isn’t on “networking,” but on the task at hand, be it training or education.

As the day progresses you get to know the people in your group and you begin to learn something about them. Networking happens as a natural by-product.

It’s a relaxed, no pressure, friendly atmosphere and I think it produces better results than collecting a bunch of cards and cold calling for the next two weeks.

Networking isn’t about working. Networking is about people.

Get to know them without the pretense of a business transaction. You’ll learn more about them, they’ll be more interested in what you have to say and, in the end, you may do even more business with them than you ever thought possible.

You could even end up collecting a few friends for your efforts; far more valuable than any business cards.

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