Networking Gone Wrong

March 7, 2014

Recently I attended two networking events and witnessed networking attempts that did not produce the desired result.  While they were not disasters they did strike me as such a waste of time (and money) for the people who did not leverage the opportunity to network correctly. And if you know me you know I am not a big fan of time wasting (probably a reason I am a time efficiency coach).  I felt compelled to write about it because we all can use a reminder of how best to network because networking is an art form.  Showing up with a go-giver mentality, being authentic and understanding how to have a relaxed, not forced, conversation are skills that can be developed.  After these two experiences I reached out to my friend and colleague Terri DeBoo of Ideas at Work.  She provided me with her Top 10 Networking Tips.   Two of her tips apply perfectly to the experiences I endured and witnessed.

First experience: After I gave the keynote address at one event a gentleman approached me as I was leaving the stage and handed me his business card.  He then proceeded to tell me what he did and how he can help me.  He encouraged me many times to check out his website to see how I could benefit from him and his company.  He was very kind but the conversation was all about him and he never asked what I did to clearly understand if I would even be interested in learning more about him.  Consider Terri’s tip #6 and tip #7…

6. “Have some questions in mind for conversation starters. People love to talk about themselves so ask questions about their jobs and what you can do to help them meet someone they need to know.”

7. “This is a NETWORKING event; quit trying to SELL somebody something. You cannot close a deal in a half an hour so stop trying.”

Unfortunately I won’t be following up with guy as he didn’t create value or reasons for me to do so.  I do hope he is able  to improve his networking style.  He does get major props for approaching me right away though.

Second experience: I was sitting at a table during a luncheon networking event and noticed the four people sitting to the right of me were all from the same company (of course the nametag tipped me off).  I thought to myself…”Don’t they know that the point of networking is to not sit with each other but to meet new people?”  The best use of their time, their company’s money and the networking event would have been to split up and sit at different tables.  If that was too uncomfortable they could have at least split up in pairs.  They missed the point of the event…to meet new people and nurture relationships they may already have with other attendees.

The main point of networking events is to meet people and allow relationships and business opportunities to naturally develop.  Those relationships and opportunities will develop through follow up, future meetings over coffee, introducing them to connections they need and taking a long-term interest in their career and business success.  Yes, it takes time but if real networking is part of your short-term prospecting strategy you will be disappointed.


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