I am always interested in the reasons that people come up with to avoid going to business events. Some people rationalize all sorts of reasons that they do not participate in their community, but in the end there is no good excuse avoid having a visible presence.
I had an interesting conversation this morning with a woman in the airport who recognized me from having seen me speak at an Austin Chamber of Commerce event. She complimented my speaking skills, but admitted to not having bought into my message of the power of business relationships. She specifically was avoiding a major black tie event this week because she "hates those things".
However, all of her customers, prospects, referral sources and competitors will be at the event, she rationalized that it will be so crowded that nobody will notice she is not there.
WRONG! Out of sight is out of mind. And what is worse is that if your competitor has an active networking campaign, then they can undermine your credibility.
What? How can somebody's visibility undermine your credibility? Think about it this way: The people who do participate at business events see your competition at all the time and feel a camaraderie with them. They don't see you and thus have no feelings about you at all. When it comes time to make a referral or select a vendor, they will choose to do business with the person they know and like.
My airport friend disagreed with me, but went on to talk about how tough times were right now in the economy and that it looked like it would remain tight for a couple of years in her industry. Interesting, she sees tought times but does not think being active in the community has any value. Meanwhile I am sure her competition appreciates her being a hermit.
Have A Great Day.