Should you bring a colleague to a networking event?

By Jessica Bruno | April 10, 2015 | Last updated on April 10, 2015
3 min read

Some experts say bringing a friend or colleague can hinder efforts to meet new people, while others say it’s helpful. If you’ve ever brought someone, how did it go?

Brian Himmelman Brian Himmelman, B.Comm, CFP President, Himmelman and Associates Halifax, N.S. Years in business: 20

I often send advisors in my firm to these events, and I suggest they bring somebody because of the ability to introduce each other to different networks. On that basis, it’s positive.

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I’ve been to many events with my mortgage broker, for instance. He’ll introduce me as his financial advisor, and I’ll introduce him as my mortgage broker. He’s done the mortgage for my residence and my office, and I’ve referred him to a number of people now that I know the deals get done, and he’s professional. He’s one of the best in the city, so I tell people that. He tells people, “My wife and I have been dealing with Brian for some time. You’d be in good hands.”

But it depends on the nature of the person you’re bringing with you. If it’s somebody who isn’t a networker, or who isn’t looking to generate business referrals, then he could slow you down. Or the two people might only talk to each other. Introverted people should go alone because it forces them into a situation where they’re either going to stand there and do nothing, or mingle. They don’t have that comfort of talking to the person they went with.

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If a person came with his best friend or spouse, it does distract from the business purpose of being there. That said, if I were an introverted advisor while my spouse was an extrovert, her personality [might make] it easier for us to meet people. It could be positive.

Susan Creasy Susan Creasy, CLU Owner, Susan Creasy Financial Inc. Kingston, Ont. Years in business: 34

I normally go alone. You’ll spend more time circulating if you’re alone. I might bring somebody from our office, but I really want that colleague to meet people on his own. I don’t want that person following me around. Normally I don’t have to say anything, but if I do, I might say, “I like going to this event because I find it a good opportunity to get out and meet new people.”

We can come together and leave together, but it’s not appropriate that we spend the whole night together. Far more will be accomplished if you spread yourselves out—even if you’re selling the exact same product. And, who knows, maybe my colleague will meet the person I’m trying to find.

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Angus Watt Angus Watt, CLU, DFOL Managing partner, Angus Watt Advisory Group, National Bank Financial Edmonton, Alta Years in business: 38

There’s nothing wrong with taking somebody to support you, whether it’s your spouse, business partner or a new agent. I’ve invited clients to bring friends to the theatre when I hold events there. My staff are there, my spouse is there, my kids are there. People want to get to know you as you; they don’t just want to get to know you as a businessperson. Having someone with you allows another perspective on who you are.

I’m also raising money for [Kingston hospitals]. I’m good at asking for donations, but I’m not an anesthesiologist who can explain why we need a new operating room. But, I have an anesthesiologist friend, whom I’ve talked to a lot about what we’re trying to do. She said, “Any time you want to go see a donor, I’m happy to come and talk about why we need a new O.R. from a professional perspective. I’m not happy asking for money.” I said, “That’s not your job; I’ll do the money ask if you can come and support me.” It’s adding value to the request.

Jessica Bruno is a Toronto-based financial writer.

Jessica Bruno