Networking: how much is too much?

The setting was a Century City conference room, where a fairly well-known alum was speaking to my school’s networking group on how Silicon Valley would likely impact the medical industry over the next decade.

As is the custom when we’re a smallish group, we each got up in turn and gave our names, graduating year and reason for attending.

Usually I cleverly tie in why I’m there with what I do, and usually, I leave with far fewer business cards than I brought. At a seminar on selling, for example, I said, "I’m launching a business to help people brand themselves and I need help promoting it"; at a program on ‘goal-free living’ this spring, I think I just blurted out that as a recovering goal-aholic, I didn’t want to hem in my presentation design business by thinking too narrowly. But each time, I did it with enthusiasm, piqued lots of people’s interest and even got a couple of clients out of it.

So I don’t know what got into me last Wednesday: maybe it was the long drive up from a San Diego conference that morning, or the cold I still hadn’t gotten over from the Palm Springs conference, or the fact that this was event #3 in just under two weeks. But when my time came around, I stood up and said that since I’d been diagnosed with a chronic illness, I was very curious to see what was in store for this medical-industrial complex I’d come to have no affection for.

I think you could have heard a pin drop even on the carpeting. As I said to Ilise on the phone debriefing the next morning, "What was I thinking?"

The truth is, I wasn’t thinking. I just said the first thing that came into my head, partly because it was true, partly because I was fried, and partly because I had gotten overly confident about winging it.

My lesson? More preparation is almost always better than less. And sometimes, fewer networking events in a row is better than more!

How do you prepare for events? Or do you? And how many events is too many for you?