The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking
I know a lot has been written on the do’s and don’ts of networking, but seriously I don’t think the right people are reading it.
After spending two days away at a conference just last weekend I am convinced this is the case.
The conference was one where if not all, but most business categories, heard or unheard of were attending. There was a great opportunity during the breaks to connect with others. I was excited to be in the room with an opportunity to learn but also to connect with such forward thinkers.
I sure was wrong there.
Here are a few stories to highlight what I discovered about the do’s and don’ts of networking.
First break of thirty minutes.
I was cornered by a gentleman who was, ‘living the dream’ – his words, not mine. After hearing every bit of detail of what he does and how much money he has, I finally extracted myself away, just in time to find a cup of coffee before it was time for the next session.
Phew, I think – that’s okay I’ve got stacks of time in further breaks to meet others.
I helped myself to food first, just in case I was cornered and missed out. And then I joined a small group at a stand-up table, and the conversation was monopolised by a lady who ‘knew it all’.
She told us – several times over – how successful she was and whenever the conversation started moving in another direction, she would interject. “Oh yes I’ve done that”, “no that wouldn’t work” or “I coach my clients in that”, “here’s my card”. She was on the sell with every breath she took.
Finally moving away from this group, I disappeared into a quiet corner to get my thoughts in place.
Next thing a lady pops up in front of me. Seriously that is how it seemed to me, she had intense eyes, and she was in my face, my personal space and couldn’t wait to tell me what she does.
This woman had been educating herself for the last couple of years with Dr Google and was convinced that the medical profession really doesn’t know anything, and she had the solution. The outcome – she was a multi-level marketer and told me how she could change my life both in health and financially.
Back in the room where we broke into work groups of eight.
I was very strategic with the group I was joining and kept a wide berth from the few I had already connected with. Happily, I did make the right choice in my working group and had a great session.
It was time for networking drinks, so I decided I would take note of how many people asked anything about me.
I think I spoke with five different people and one, yes one person asked me about what it was that brought me there.
That one question created a great conversation of what we had learnt that day. An enjoyable conversation and even though I doubt there were any synergies with our businesses that did not matter. I had met another human being who was interesting and was there for all the right reasons. We exchanged contacts, and we will keep in contact via social.
Arriving early, I sussed out the room, spied a young guy standing on his own so introduced myself asking “what brings you to this conference?” “My boss told me to come”. I don’t think his boss would have been happy with that anyhow we continued talking.
He told me what he did, but the poor guy was not where he needed to be, and I was not there to provide a counselling session.
First break and this time a lady with disgusting breath cornered me. She told me all about her business then moved on thankfully. I was over ‘networking’ by this stage and decided to just keep to my small group of business friends.
Lunchtime was not much better – I managed to have a few one-sided conversations.
The End of the Conference.
A fantastic conference even if the networking was ho-hum. Waiting in the line for the bathroom, I got into a conversation with a lady from Melbourne. What a delightful person, so we caught up outside and had a great two-way conversation.
I realised I have a contact who may be able to assist her so I will connect them. Even though we may never do business together we don’t know who each other knows and just maybe the opportunity to refer may come up.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking:
- Don’t dominate the conversation.
- Be genuinely interested, curious and listen
- Show interest and smile but don’t step into their personal space
- Do not try and sell – just share what you do
- Introduce yourself with a one liner – what you do and why you love it
- Be the authentic you
- Brush your teeth or at least use a breath freshener
Networking should not be self-serving. The objective is to meet new people but not to sell to them, just connect. Be authentic and leave a positive impression.
Do you have any secrets to share on successful networking? I would love to hear them.
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