By Andy Lopata, Business Networking Stategist

How many people constitute a 'networking event'?

That's the question I was asking myself after attending the world's smallest ever event. With only two of us present, surely that's a record that can't be beaten?

The event, an intimate monthly dinner with normally around 12 people present, was hit by low registrations because of the time of year and a number of cancellations on the day. Even the event host gave up when no-one had turned up twenty minutes after the start time.

As he left, little did he know that I was turning up, worried that I was twenty minutes late as my last meeting had overrun. Naturally I was a bit concerned when I was seated in the restaurant...on my own. Never mind, I ordered a beer and munched on olives, sure that I had got the times wrong and everyone would turn up in a few minutes.

Twenty five minutes later I was a lot more concerned. I had busied myself with the menu, having experienced the food in this restaurant before I definitely wasn't leaving now, and figured it had become 'dinner for the sad man on the big table in the corner'. But then another latecomer came down the stairs, looking equally confused and joined me.

When I was involved in running networking groups I was often frustrated that people's first question on being invited to attend a networking event was 'how many people will be there?' There seemed to me to be too strong a focus on quantity over quality. I always believed that this is a very misguided approach, having been to many good events with few people and an equal number of well attended disasters.

As it was, Julian and I had an excellent meeting, finding out a lot about each other's business, discussing people we both know and our attitudes and experiences of networking. We had both heard of each other before but never met.

We were able to discuss things in a lot more depth than we would have done ordinarily and develop an understanding that could potentially lead to a deeper relationship.

So how many people do you need to attend to create a networking event? As that meeting proved, in the right circumstances two can be company enough.

Labelled ‘One of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ by the Financial Times, Andy Lopata helps businesses develop successful networking and referral generation strategies. www.lopata.co.uk

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