How NOT to Network

Networking can be about a fun as sticking pins in your eye, but sometimes what you need is not what you want. I had the good fortune of meeting today’s guest poster at a networking event, ironically, so she was the natural choice to talk about what not to do when networking…

EC: Most folks I talk to are a bit afraid of networking. Don’t get me wrong – they’re not anti-social. They just really seem to believe that a “secret handbook” exists somewhere and they don’t know how to get a copy. Many won’t feel comfortable doing this “thing” called networking until they have explicit instructions on where to go, who to talk to, a verbatim script of what to say and an ironclad guarantee that 100% of the people they meet will buy from them/hire them/give them money in some way!

Sorry – that’s not going to happen. A quick Google search will show you that there are a LOT of tips, classes and “Top 10” lists of techniques all claiming to make you a better networker. However, I’m a simple lady and a firm believer in the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle. To me, the only networking “rule” is The Golden Rule: Treat others as you’d have them treat you. Not so hard, right?

Well, I recently had a networking experience that was the antithesis of my one and only rule. In fact, this guy did EVERYTHING so very wrong that I was literally left speechless. Since this happens extremely rarely (trust me on that one!), I walked away feeling I had finally found the “Networking Story that MUST be Told”!

So what did this guy – let’s call him Joe – do? I was in the middle of a conversation with a new acquaintance named John who was doing everything RIGHT. This wonderful gentleman was engaged, personable, genuinely curious in learning more about me and my business, and, after only two minutes, already had me feeling I was the most fascinating person in the room.

Joe walked up (barged in would be more accurate!) and, without waiting for so much as eye contact or a break in our conversation, demanded “You got a card??”. I was so stunned I invoked my favorite defense – honesty!

“Why yes, I do.” said I while pulling one out of my purse. “Do you”?

“I haven’t needed one in ten years. I write the XYZ Newsletter” Joe replied. Who knew? Turns out I was in the presence of an “author” and was just too darn stupid to know it! My bad.

I handed him a card with my mouth still hanging open unattractively. Without so much as a ‘thank you’ or a ‘goodbye’, Joe turned on his heel and proceeded towards his next victim.

Feeling a bit as if we’d just witnessed a train wreck, John and I could only shake our heads and resume our conversation.

The following week, I received the “XYZ Newsletter” in email. Although I broke several sound and speed records racing to click the “unsubscribe” option, I do have to thank Joe for stepping up to fill my newly created position. He has now been officially named the “Poster Child of how NOT to network”!

What’s YOUR worst networking experience? Anyone out there challenging Joe for the title??? I’d love to hear your stories!