Tuesday, July 10, 2007

3 ways to ruin your chances at Business Networking

Earlier today, I attended a networking meeting in Central London, run by a well known organisation. There were around 100 or so people there from a variety of businesses. Many were interesting and good listeners, some less so but there were three individuals who really ought to learn the fundamentals of *networking. Here's those 3 "no noes" for starters:

TIP 1. Do not barge in on a "closed two".

Scene: I was in conversation with an executive of a well known company. All of a sudden from my left and overweight gentleman with an absurd tie said "hello" and started to ask a question of the executive. No rapport building or politeness. He even had the temerity to ask me to hold his glass of red wine. I put it on the nearest table, made an excuse and left the poor executive to handle "Mr Buffoon".

TIP 2. Never peer at name badges.

Scene: Two women and I were discussing business opportunities when we were approached by "Mr Nerd". He leant towards us three, peered at our name badges, then scuttled away after rambling on for a minute or so about the services he offered. Needless to say, my two new friends and I were most unimpressed. The title on his business card said "Head of Sales".

TIP 3. Remain sober and listen.

Scene: The three of us were joined by a fourth and things were going along really well until "Mr Large" turned up. Perhaps I should call him Mr Me, because that's all he was interested in - himself. Also, he was clearly drunk, rude and bellicose.

All three of these people, in my opinion, behaved in a socially inadequate manner. The Golden Rule of networking is to exhibit unconditional giving.

* I'd like to recommend you attend a Will Kintish talk, and/or get a copy of And Death Came Third by Andy Lopata and Peter Roper


James Higham said...

Found myself nodding here, especially on N1. This is not observed over here and I personally resent it. There's no concept that two people deep in conversation are doing so for a reason.

CityUnslicker said...

good points JJ. i think I am guilty of number 2!

Jeremy Jacobs said...

What you, Mr Nerd?

James Higham said...

Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

An example of poor networking I saw this week: someone firing a rapid series of questions at a person she had just met – totally ignoring his increasing discomfort as the interrogation progressed. There was a complete lack of give-and-take. It seems to me that the best networking is a kind of dance where we begin to build relationships by giving each other space and room to manoeuvre. We also need to pick up the rhythm. If someone is talking light heartedly we need to respond in kind. Detailed or intense questioning can wait for a more appropriate time!

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Excellent observation Dorothea.

I think this sort of activity works best in industry specific networking groups. The same can be said for on-line social networking.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, I sometimes wonder if I get carried away by my enthusiasm at these events, I'm not sure what impression people have of me. Being a good listener is crucial, even if it is the same person who have heard many times before.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Ellee, I'm sure you are wonderful.

Colin Campbell said...

I used to do a lot of this when I lived in Singapore. Being a naturally shy person, I found it challenging, but I watched the succesful networkers and used some of their tricks. Over aggression is the one thing that turned me off.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

At a corporate do last week where I was host, I explained the fundamentals of networking. In addition to the tips above:

1. Smile

2. Get that name badge in the right-hand lapel

3. If you say you are going to contact someone. Do so.