Do you ever read the trade press or log on to your social media platforms, see the same familiar faces somewhere fancy and think, “how does that person ever get any work done?”.
“They’re never in the office, they’re always out freeloading and enjoying themselves, while I’m left behind holding the fort?”
Or perhaps you think the opposite… “Wow, look how dedicated that person is, they’re there acting as an ambassador for their company, supporting the partners that support them and, in many cases, giving up their own valuable time, evenings, weekends etc.”
If you think the former, are you genuinely in that camp, or, if you were honest with yourself, are you a tad jealous that it’s not you?
Remember, perception versus reality is often distorted.
While it may look like the same people frequenting the same events with each other, it’s probably no different from you going to your favourite coffee shop twice in a week and bumping into the same friend.
Your perception would be that they’re there all the time, but actually they just so happen to be there the same days you are.
Let’s not forget, you’re only seeing the glamorous, smiley, posed photos. For many people, attending an event for the first time or alone is daunting.
Walking into a big room full of unfamiliar faces, you’re suddenly expected to be this super confident individual who can approach anyone and strike up a conversation about anything.
For most of us it doesn’t come naturally, and we have to work at it. It is most definitely networking, with the emphasis on “working”.
The good news is that networking does get easier with time, and you do start to see familiar faces and build a network – and you may end up with your photo plastered over trade/social media.
This is a good thing (unless the photo is a shocker!).
It shows you’re engaged with the industry and that your company is progressive and wants you to represent them, building and sustaining a profile for both you and your business.
I think if I asked any of my industry colleagues or friends to attach a value to attending launches, openings, showcases, conferences, dinners, roundtables and awards, they would reel off a whole range of benefits, from simply meeting new people and learning new things to winning new business or even securing a new exciting job.
It’s also amazing what spending time with established colleagues in a whole new environment can add to a partnership – strictly professionally, I mean, obviously.
While we can’t all go to everything as we would struggle with our work-life balance, I do believe we should support, where we can, the right opportunities when presented.
I hear all too often people say they can’t justify the time out of the office.
Would these people be saying this if they had come back having learnt something game- changing for their business, secured new business, ensured funding for an initiative or even found an amazing new staff member to join their team?
It’s so easy to take a short-term view and dismiss an opportunity.
But if you’re not careful, you could be missing out on more than just champagne and canapes.
John Sullivan is head of commercial at Advantage Travel.