Kevin the discussion leader offered this observation which I will paraphrase. You go to a networking event and one of the networkers explains all the wonderful things that he can do for your clients and that of course you should refer him immediately. Then he is off to run down his next target. Kevin goes on to say, I am not usually going to refer clients to someone who does not bother to ask me what I do. I would be fairly sure that most who approach me like this do not even realize the impression that they are making; they are probably thinking that they are working hard to find business. Problem is they are not using the right tools to find business. There are really three tools that are vital to networking: a brain and two ears!
Denise responded: I have been to networking events where the same thing has happened to me. One person or persons go around the room and collect business cards tell about themselves then moves on. This would not be someone I could refer any business. When I network I am looking for power partners who can help each other . . . You are correct that you need to know someone and their business before you can begin referring . . . This takes time.
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I hear this comment a lot and what it sounds like to me is this, “I am not going to network anymore because there are always one or two people not playing nice.” This is followed by, “I’ll show them. I won’t play with them.”
Who care about them?! If they really bother you, excuse yourself and move on to the contacts you want to make. Otherwise you might shout, “Hey! Let me tell you something about me.” I find most people are not intentionally trying to be rude, they’re just excited about what they do; they’re inexperienced; or they are just perpetually in sales mode. Don’t get stressed about it.
How about saying this, “Wow I can tell you are really excited about what you do, let me tell you about my great product or service.” Just because these individuals are a bit self centered it does not make them outcasts. Help them channel that enthusiasm and energy into being an advocate for you.
These networkers are not entirely wrong. They are just playing a different game. They know that networking is all about numbers and they’re hoping to score a knock out punch. But it is my observation that most people are far too passive. Remember that you do have to work the room. You do need to meet a lot of people. You do need to distribute and take a lot of business cards, because you do not know where the gold lies.
You might have a very nice meaningful in-depth conversation with someone who will never buy what you have and will never refer you to anyone. What good is that? You may have spent time nurturing that relationship at the expense of a better opportunity.
Most networking events are more similar to speed dating then they are to a Valentine dinner. At the average networking event you need to have as many short conversations as you can with as many people as you can. During that short period of time you need to communicate succinctly what you have to offer and find out a little something about the other person. Try to make a favorable impression. Ask for the other person’s business card and offer yours. After that you should have enough information to consider “a second date.” That might be a follow up email or phone call with an invitation to learn more or get to know each other better. Some people may not warrant that much attention but if you see them at another event take the opportunity to renew your acquaintance and learn a little more. That is the advantage of attending reoccurring events like Chamber of Commerce, Meetups and other monthly or weekly gatherings. At these events you can take the time to have multiple interactions and build rapport. At “one-off” events you have to be a bit more aggressive. Interrupt a person who is taking too much of your time. You can say, “ I am really happy to have learned a little about yu and your business but I would like to meet a few more people.” This is not a party. This is a business event. You might risk offending them but chances are he or she knows they talk too much.
Don’t grouse. Take control of your time and your networking opportunity. Respect other people’s time and ask them to respect yours. Don’t be too hasty to write someone off because they are a little too aggressive. These are often people who are connectors. They meet a lot of people and believe me most of them know that they reap what they sow. Take a tip from the martial arts masters and turn that negative energy to your purpose.