The lyrics from the chorus of Pete Seeger’s, “Where have all the flower gone” came to mind last week. I was seated at table of eight in a room of about 300 people. The event provided an excellent opportunity to network with the local business community.
Most people get it
At my assigned table, we each made appropriate introductions and exchanged business cards. Although two of my tablemates worked for the same company, they reached out to others at the table with questions about business focus and target markets of others. Another guest at the table I have known for some time. The others were strangers to me. The conversation turned to social media and I discovered an opportunity to set up a meeting to discuss the use of social media for business. The table conversations focused on information gathering with each of us looking for ways to connect with one another. It appeared that everyone was using the opportunity to build this network opportunity by getting to “know, like and trust people,” just like John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing recommends.
The shocker came in the form of a late arrival.
After lunch had been served and the speaker had made her presentation, a woman approached our table with these words, “Hi I came late, here is my card, I’m looking for business.” As she handed out her cards, I quipped, “aren’t we all?” There were a lot of side ways glances and rolling eyeballs as we all recognized the faux pas that the late-comer committed. “When will they ever learn?”
How could this woman hope that any of us would make the effort to get to “know, like or trust” her when she burst into our conversation the way she did? She did not introduce herself by name, nor did she ask our names. She just dealt the cards, asked for business and moved on to the next table. Her card informed us that she is an account manager for small business with a major Canadian bank. “When will they ever learn?”
Have you attended networking events where total strangers tried to sell their product or service directly to you? How did you feel? What was your reaction?
It’s not about selling
Networking is not about selling to the person sitting next to you. Networking is about getting to know, like and trust people. A follow-up meeting after an initial introduction will help to develop rapport, explore goals and identify some common ground. Sometimes called business-building interviews, these discovery meetings provide the opportunity to get to know one another. At these meetings, you find out about the other person’s expertise and needs. Even when you know, like and trust a person, in a networking context, it is not usually appropriate to sell. The opportunity is to share leads. For example, I might know someone that could use your services or product and likewise you might know someone who could use my services. I am not selling to you. We are making referrals.
Networking opportunities when used properly, provide valuable business connections.
Where do you network? What are the benefits of networking for your business?