Your Top 10 Business Networking Hates
Here is a list of your top 10 business networking hates based on a survey carried out amongst experienced networkers and a few tips on how you can help yourself handle these next time you go networking.
- Takers v. givers and people who sell to you ‘People who talk about themselves and their business and have no interest in anyone else, and who try to sell to you missing the point of what networking is all about’
‘My pet hate is people who try to sell to me – completely turns me off!’
Undoubtedly this is one of the top business networking hates.....people who just don’t get the concept of networking and are out for all they can get whilst not being prepared to give. They will see a networking event as a place to carry out a sales pitch rather than build up relationships. So, set an example yourself and adopt the attitude to give before receiving. Also help others understand this concept, after all most people new to networking won’t necessarily know how to network effectively.
- Walking into a room full of people and breaking into groups ‘When I first started networking my biggest problem was going up to people and introducing myself. It went against my nature to make the first move, so that took some getting used to.’
A close second on the list of your business networking hates is walking into the room full of strangers and making the first move to introduce yourself. Research has shown around 99% of networkers feeling some sort of negative feeling at the prospect of walking into a room full people they don’t know. But take heart, with practice you do get used to this. Remember people are there to network so will welcome you introducing yourself. Prioritise towards people you know who can introduce you to others, lone networkers and people in ‘open groups’ where there is a gap for you to join them. Also be the good networker by keeping a look out for others who look as if they want to join a group.
- Standing up and speaking ‘...saying those first few words to a person or group of people. So how to make a good, lasting, first impression’
Whether you have to stand up and introduce yourself to an audience or just to someone on a one to one basis many people feel apprehensive…fear of forgetting what you want to say, not explaining yourself clearly or just not making a positive impression. Most people will tell you that with experience and practice this fear diminishes particularly if you become familiar with the people you are talking to. The key to this is preparation.....know what you want to say and keep it concise. How can you sum up what you do and how it benefits others in say 20 seconds?
- Being lumbered with someone who you want to move on from ‘...getting lumbered with one person who doesn’t understand that we’re there to mix and work the room, so they stick to me like glue.’
Networking presents an opportunity to meet lots of people and sometimes you will find that you become stuck with someone you no longer want to talk to. Perhaps they only know you there or don’t feel confident breaking away for fear of offending you, or maybe they are just so focused on talking about themselves that they aren’t aware of your need to move on. When this happens to you look for opportunities to end the conversation – don’t be afraid to say there is someone in particular you would like to catch up or that you would like to go and meet some more people. Don’t leave them alone but ask whether they would like to join you or offer to introduce them to someone else.
- Not being made to feel welcome‘...not knowing anyone, people not making you feel welcome or part of the group and sitting on your own’
Some networking events are better organised by others and sometimes the consequences of a poor event is not feeling welcome. There may be cliques which you might find difficult to break into, you don’t have a full list of attendees and the format of the event is not clear. Whilst there is much learning in this for networking organisers there is learning for us all. If you see new people at an event make an effort to be welcoming and if you are new yourself don’t be afraid to make the first move with introducing yourself. If you go to the same event again and you just don’t feel welcomed and you feel you have done everything you can to make an effort, find another event where you feel more comfortable.
- Remembering names ‘Forgetting someone’s name’
It’s a horrid moment... you are talking to someone you have just met or at a previous event, and now someone else you know has joined you and you feel obliged to introduce your new contact to them…but you can’t remember their name! Name badges always help (so make sure you wear one). When someone says their name repeat it and remark on any aspect of it (politely of course) which will help you remember it. Also taking their business card and reading their name can also help reinforce it.
- Business Card Pushers ‘People who think that exchanging a business card is networking.’
There are some people who at all costs want to shove their business card in your hand and also those who collect business cards without finding out about the owner of the card. This is not networking and misses the point that networking is about finding out about people and their business and how you can help them. A brief exchange of business cards does little more that develop a database of meaningless contacts who are unlikely to be receptive to any mailings you send as a result. So yes exchange business cards by all means but take the opportunity to find out about the person behind the card and what synergy there may be between you. If you are on the receiving end of the business card pusher don’t worry, they probably haven’t wasted much of your time as they are already off in search of their next ‘victim’.
- Lack of synergy with other networkers'...going to an event, looking at the list and having no one there who I think would be synergistic for me and having to randomly speak to people in the hopes that there are links between myself and someone in the room.’
It can be very frustrating when you are busy to go to an event and find that there is no one you have any synergy with leaving you feeling you have wasted your time and money. Do your homework before an event to find out who else will be there and decide whether the event is right for you. However, presented with this situation make the most of it and don’t take at face value the names and sectors of the businesses on the attendance list…you never know what past life others in the room have. Often we discover that people with the most unrelated businesses can often help each other tremendously.
- Not being given sufficient information about attendees‘...not getting a full members list (including contact details) on arrival (or preferably before)’
Not all events provide a list of who is attending but understandably if you are going to an event it is helpful to know who is going so you know who you might want to speak to. In this case ask the organisers who is going beforehand and if not ask the organisers on the day who might be useful for you to be introduced to.
- Pressure to join a group ‘Being pestered at the close of a meeting to join the group immediately and complete a direct debit form'
If you are going to invest your time and money into attending a regular networking event you want to be sure that you find a group which is right for you. Be suspicious of anyone who tries the hard sell...a good group where you feel comfortable should sell itself and allow yourself the time to make the right to make the right choice for your business.
The business networking hates survey was completed by 32 business networkers, UK, July 2009
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