Networking sometimes reminds me of dating. In both cases, a mutually beneficial relationship is the goal. But, like dating, the ways some people look to achieve relationships through networking can be very-off putting.
Handing me your business card before introducing yourself. This is like someone asking for your phone number before you’ve had a chance to get to know them. Both tactics come off as cheap. It’s hard to trust someone who comes off as if they’re looking for a touchdown.
Butting in a conversation and talking only about what’s important to you. Have you ever had someone invade your table of friends and fail to go away, even when it’s obvious you don’t want him or her there? I’m all for making myself approachable and inviting others into a discussion, but not to be interrupted to hear all about your business with no change of back-and-forth discussion.
Relentlessly asking me to buy something. Most of you will probably nod in agreement at the annoyance of ‘that guy’ – the person who can’t take “no” for an answer. No means no. Continuing to probe me just makes it worse for you, because I won’t tell my friends good things either.
Here some of things that make me want to do business with someone:
- Introduce yourself and inquire about my business. It’s always encouraging when people appear sincere about building a relationship, starting with a simple inquiry “tell me about what you do.”
- Find common ground or a way we can work together. Before pushing a sale, find a way we relate to each other or help each other out. It’s likely we are connected to the same people and can find something relational to help break the ice. Once we’ve had a chance to get to know each other, perhaps we have businesses that could complement each other through referrals? It’s important to find similarities to help build the like, know, trust phase that leads to the buy.
- Follow-up with a LinkedIn request. I love it when people beat me to the punch on this follow-up task! Send a message and say it was nice to meet me and suggest that we have coffee, if it seems appropriate.
I’m no networking expert, but I have found huge value in networking. If you use social media, you may find networking helps to bridge the gap between the online and real world experiences and puts the personal touch on a budding or existing relationship.
And, like social media, that hard sell may end up pushing away more people than it attracts. In my experience, a lasting relationship usually doesn’t start in the buy stage.
What are your networking turnoffs? Have you had positive experiences?