Business Networking Don’ts

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When you are first breaking out into the business networking world, there are going to be things that turn you off when you first meet people or vice versa.  In fact, some of these things can leave such a bad taste in your mouth that you decide to swear off business networking altogether!

Being aware of the things that make people cringe will help you identify who in the room is not someone you necessarily want to meet, but it will also help you to become a better networker yourself.

 

Business Networking Don’ts

  • Quit Your Pitching at Networking Functions

Whatever you do, do NOT go around the room pitching your product and service to everyone in the hopes of closing a sale.  Remember, you aren’t going there to simply close sales – you are going there to foster relationships, add value, and expand your network.

Example: I once threw a ladies-only happy hour where around 40 women showed up to network.  One lady brought her laptop with her and walked around the room the whole time trying to get the other attendees to sign up for her subscription.  After about 10 minutes, all the other women would move to the side of the room she wasn’t on, as if they were avoiding her.  She ended up becoming frustrated and leaving early to everyone’s relief.

The moral of the story?  Don’t go to a business networking event for the sole purpose of selling.  This isn’t a trade show, retail floor or flash sale.  Networking events are designed to foster professional relationships!

 

  • Don’t be “The Bamboozler.”

The “bamboozler” is a person who acts interested in your product or service but has no intention of buying your product or service.  Instead, their motive is to get you to buy their product or service.

Example:  There was a gentleman who had told me at a business networking event that he was very interested in my business and wanted to know more.  He suggested we meet up for coffee to which I agreed.  The day of our meeting, he said he had to push back the meeting to 4 PM and change locations.  I was new in town, so it didn’t bother me…until I met up with him.

The location ended up being a wine bar.  Upon sitting down to chat with him, it became abundantly clear that he wasn’t there to talk about my business.  He wanted to date and get to know ME as a person – something I was not open to at the time.

Example:  I’ve also had the honor of having a lady express her sincere interest in my business and wanted to meet up over coffee face-to-face.  Within the first 5 minutes of meeting her she expressed she wasn’t interested in my organization at all but thought I would be a great fit for her business model.  As it turned out, I had been bamboozled.  Manipulating someone to meet up with you under false pretenses is the same as lying.  At the very least, be honest with your intentions.  Give me the option of agreeing or disagreeing – at the very least you won’t be wasting my time and your energy!  But more on this later!

 

  • The 3 Do NOTS at Networking Functions.

Don’t be sleazy, skeezy or rapey at a business networking function.  Yes, they are all a little different!  Let’s break them down:

Sleazy is a person who tries to hard-sell you at a product or service without your invitation to do so.  The example of the lady walking around the room trying to get people to buy her subscription is a great example of someone who is being sleazy.

Skeezy is someone who walks around hitting on people or trying to get people to date them.  A business networking event is supposed to be for business, not dating.  Sure, sometimes things unfold organically, but a skeezy person is someone who shows up at a business function looking for a date or for someone to go home with.

Rapey, on the other hand, is the most dangerous of all.  These are the people who try to slip something in your beverage or get you to drink too much so that you can’t drive home.  Most of the time, they are trying to take advantage of you.  Be safe and avoid the rapey people!

 

  • Don’t Be The Trash Talker at Networking Functions.

This is the person who bad-mouths all their competition despite whether they are in the same room!  These guys aren’t too hard to spot – they rarely have anything nice to say about anyone who is in the same line of work as them.  In fact, there have been trash talkers who have even bad-mouthed people within their same company!  Steer clear of the trash talkers – it’s only a matter of time before you become the person they are trash-talking.

 

  • Don’t be “The Drive-by” at Professional Events.

The “drive-by” is a person who runs around the room, stating their 30 seconds, handing out a card, and then quickly moves onto the next person.  They rinse and repeat the whole night before leaving with a stack of cards.  There could be a couple of different reasons for this behavior:  one, they are nervous, and this is a kind of stress response to being in a crowded room or in a professional setting.  Or two, they are there to gather as many business cards as possible, take them back to the office to determine who is a potential client and who isn’t, and only follow up with potential clients.

Regardless, neither reason fosters the spirit of business networking.  Machine gunning your way around a crowd isn’t going to help you get business any more than running around the room with a laptop in hand, trying to get people to sign up for your downline on the spot.

 

  • Don’t Be A Stage 5 Clinger at Networking Functions.

Have you ever gone to a professional networking event, and there was that one person who would not leave you alone?  It’s almost as if they have sunk their pinchers into you and won’t let go!  There could be several reasons for this, but if I was to pull from one of my own personal faux pas from the past, it was because I was nervous, shy and I didn’t know how to introduce myself.

One way to free yourself from a Stage 5 clinger is to take them around and introduce them to other people in the room.  Typically, another person will strike up a conversation and you can exit the situation.  Another way would be to politely excuse yourself by saying, “It was great meeting you, but I am being conscious of time, and I’d like to say hi to a few other people in the room.”  It’s a professional, direct, and not a personal attack.

 

*PRO TIP* Remember to focus on five to eight people per networking event, and give them five to eight minutes of your time and attention before moving on to the next person.  Trying to meet and build rapport with every person in the room isn’t feasible (unless it’s a small group) and you will overwhelm yourself.  Focus on quality, not quantity!

 

About We&Co

We&Co is a professional co-oping business that was founded in Springfield, Missouri.  While there are many networking groups in and around the United States, We&Co focuses on creating small industry-specific groups with five to ten professionals who all have the same target audience but offer different products and services.

In short, we support local professionals save time and money by pairing them with their ideal referral partners. They meet up twice a month for an hour and talk strategy on how to become that one-stop-shop for their clients.  If you are a professional who is interested in joining or launching your own We&Co co-op (or “Huddle” as we like to call them), feel free to email Jana@weandco.org