I'm listening to a tape that talks about positive mental attitudes and how you get what you think about. Apparently I think about books a lot, because I've won two in the last couple of weeks. One from InBubbleWrap.com (check it out, you can win, too) and the other from Thom Singer called "Some Assembly Required." I haven't read it yet (just got it in today's mail), but in skimming through it, I've already come across a gem.
In a section about the myths of networking, he has the myth "Decision makers never attend networking events." I run across that as an objection to networking with the Clovis Chamber. Occasionally someone will tell me, "Oh, it's just salespeople talking to each other at the mixers." Certainly there are more of that type - salespeople, sole proprietors, and independent agents - but that's not the only people. Sure, Dave McDonald (CEO of Pelco) hasn't popped in yet, but there are people who are business owners and decision makers who do attend. You have to be willing to work the room to find them.
Thom puts it very succintly, answering this myth with the inarguable wisdom: "Everyone goes somewhere." If they're not going anywhere to network, then their business probably isn't going anywhere either.
If you're truly not finding decision makers where you're going (sometimes we don't look hard enough), then go somewhere else. They might be at places where it costs a little more: Rotary, BNI, Chamber awards dinners, fundraisers, and black-tie dinners. You have to be a little bolder and know very specifically who you're looking to target to make it work.
You might conciously decide that you don't have the funding right now to pursue that avenue, so you'll want to really work with the people you can meet at other functions to find those decision-makers. Don't be the poor networker who attends one event and judges all others if they don't get the results they want on the first try.