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Monday, January 07, 2013

3 No-nos of Networking

What's on the iPod: Love Interruption by Jack White



writing, freelance, networking
Hockey is back!

Even if it's an interrupted season, I'll take it. I love hockey as much as (if not more than) football. Amen for the end of the lockout! I won't wax on about what I think about the entire mess because it's boring for those of you who don't follow the sport. And it's in the past. Amen.

I was exhausted last night thanks to a weekend with the family in western PA and the five-hour drive each direction. Plus with eleven people sleeping in various beds and on nearly all floor surfaces in the small house my parents live in, it wasn't easy to sleep. I nearly opted for a hotel on night two, but I was too tired to drive to one. The closest one is about 20 miles away anyway.

Nevertheless, I was up at 2 am this morning and could not get back to sleep. So I did what I normally do -- I try to meditate while still in bed, which usually clears the mind and puts me right back out. This time, however, it allowed a blog post idea to formulate.

Because I'm gearing up for what I hope is the next trade show (on the fence about going because of the work I have already), I was thinking about the networking events and how so many people do it wrong. If you've ever introduced yourself to someone and have then been held captive by the one-sided conversation/sales pitch or worse, not been engaged in conversation when they realize you're probably not a customer, you know what I'm talking about.

I've come up with my own list of no-nos that should be eliminated from any networking encounter:

No monologues. Just because someone shows an interest in what you do does not give you license to fill every inch of dead air with the sound of how fabulous your business is or how badly they need your services.  By doing that, you not only turn off the person held captive listening to you, but you miss out on learning just exactly who this person is and how you can best help them with your services.

No sales. Don't use the first meeting to say "Great to meet you! Let me tell you why you need to hire me" or any other sales pitch. An immediate sales pitch lacks sensitivity and feels a lot like someone throwing darts at a map to figure out where to live. It's too random, and it lacks any personality or relationship-building traits. It's like trying to make small talk with a car salesperson who hasn't made quota this month -- it feels like hard selling because it is. Relax. Get to know the person you're looking at.

No shunning. So you sell writing services and you've just found the person in front of you never hires writers. That's no excuse for turning your back or excusing yourself and finding someone more interesting to talk to. Big mistake, in fact, for that person may someday hire a writer, and you can damn well bet he or she knows someone else who does hire writers. Don't shun -- engage in conversation. Who is this person? What business are they in? How are they liking the networking event? What events have they been to that they think are worth attending? There's always information to be had from nearly anyone you meet.

What are your networking no-nos?

7 comments:

Kimberly Ben said...

I second the 'No monologues" because how can you build beneficial relationships with others when you're the only one talking?

Cathy Miller said...

Lori, I thought of you immediately when I heard the hockey news. :-)

You pretty much hit the nail on the head. Don't monopolize the conversation and don't hit them up with a sales pitch from the get-go. Let them ask about your business or what you do.

And it always amazes me when someone disses someone who says no. It's a very small world, and your paths are most certainly destined to cross again.

Paula said...

Those are also good tips for making and keeping friends: Don't make it all about you, don't oversell yourself, and don't cast them aside because you can't see a way to benefit from knowing them.

Lori said...

LOL! Paula, that's so true.

Paula said...

I just noticed that the feature shred of paper in the photo you used says, "Making new friends..." Maybe the power of suggestion was behind my comment, LOL.

Devon Ellington said...

Most people are pretty interesting, if you take the time to find out about them. Just because they don't project that initially doesn't mean there's not a lot under the surface. Usually, it's worth the time to spend a few minutes talking to someone. What seems like a non-business conversation can spark all kinds of inspirations.

Lori said...

That's what I've found too, Devon. Even the quietest people (and sometimes especially the quiet ones) have interesting stories to tell.

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