I like to meet new people. I like to learn from them. I like to learn about them. Yet, I hate networking events.

I feel anxious at networking events. Usually, I just end up talking to one person and fail to mingle. I don’t seem to get how people use them correctly or benefit from attending them.

Rationally, I understand how networking expands the number of people you know. I know it’s great to get out of my comfort zone and do things like that. However, I always try avoid them.

I don’t think these events are bad or fake, I just value my downtime a lot and the idea of spending an evening or a day getting to know more people doesn’t add up when it’s ambiguous who I may meet and what we might discuss.

Networking: Wide or Deep?

Instead, I choose to spend my time trying to reinforce the relationships I already have. I keep in touch with people over LinkedIn, text, or email; perhaps grab a beer or coffee with people. It’s deliberate. My approach isn’t to focus too much on widening my network. My goal is to build deeper connections with those I already know.

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

-Thomas Edison

Networking is work. Networking events are good if you know your purpose for being there and you act accordingly. For networking events to be useful, there needs to be a purpose, because people bond more in pursuit of executing a high stakes project together. Useful bonds are forged working together, not making small talk. Focus on those relationships… It might be way more useful.