Business networking – is it 90% social now?

I went to a networking event a few weeks ago, the excellent Business Retreat organised by BusinessScene and InnerFlame.
Since then I have started working with two of the attendees as clients, and one as a supplier. A pretty decent result.
What strikes me though is that these are the people who didn’t talk business during the weekend. These are the people who chatted, built relationships, got to know each other. These weren’t the people who were thrusting a business card at me, but these were the people who, after the event, I realised that I simply ‘liked’.
Wasn’t it always thus though? When I started work (1988) I was told that such and such did all his business at the golf club, or it was ok for a certain manager to spend most afternoons in the pub as we got loads of business from his contacts there.
Since formalised business networking was introduced – have we tried to over strategise it? Do any of the strategies and techniques which we read about actually work?
I enjoy business networking events with a format (I don’t enjoy just walking up to random strangers and introducing myself, I prefer meetings which facilitate this) but is there really a need for our conversations within those meetings to be scripted. What happened to just chatting and getting to know each other?
 

“I implemented one more thing from the Retreat and it has resulted in a new client which gives me a positive ROI within 6 days”
Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
Samantha Rollins, Trinity Accountants