Networking is not giving a pitch or even having conversations, it is about what you do in the room and outside of it. The other day I attended a networking lunch where there were speakers before the lunch and between the main course and dessert. The speakers were interesting and entertaining yet some people in the room chose not to listen, instead they were on their phones writing emails, browsing the internet, checking social media, etc. What does that say about them? I am perhaps old-fashioned in thinking that one is duty bound to listen to people who have spent time preparing something to present to the audience. Also, if people cannot listen to people who paid for their lunch, some of the speakers were from the event sponsors, how much attention are they going to give to me. Another thought is that if they are easily distracted how well will they concentrate on giving me great service?
Two people from the same organisation sat together and spent the whole of the time talking to each other not engaging with anyone else on the table. They obviously do not want, or need, my business and are certainly not going to get it.
I observed people as they milled about before and after the lunch. It was clear that some people moved on as soon as they discovered the person they were talking to was not a potential customer. Strange – it’s networking, not sales pitching. Building good relationships with a range of people allows you to contact, via them, with people not in the room – that is what networking is about.
After the meeting you can also get it very wrong. Connecting on LinkedIn is good, immediately sending sales pitches in a private message is not. Do send friendly messages designed to build rapport. DO NOT spam. And don’t express an interest in someone’s business as a potential customer at the meeting to get their contact details then follow up afterwards just to try and sell them something. Networking is about building relationships not destroying them.
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