As you know by now, I belong to a networking group called BNI. Every meeting we have a 5-minute education slot. I was going through my previous meeting notes and came across an educational slot titled “Networking Monsters”. I attend a lot of networking events and I get to meet some very interesting and sometimes “special” people so I found this very funny and sadly true. Richard went over the ‘3 monsters to avoid.’
I think I used to be one of these people. I had to be at an event because my boss forced me to go but I didn’t really want to be there. I’m naturally shy so I felt awkward in social situations if I didn’t know anyone at the function. However, I do have social skills whereas zombies don’t. They’ll go from conversation to conversation, not contribute anything and when I try to start a conversation they’re very guarded. It makes me think they’re brain dead.
These people scare the daylights out of me (pun intended). They are the energy thieves in the room. You make eye contact with them and they never let you go. They start by asking all the right questions and then will try to suck you dry for freebies. If you even hint at being successful, they will tap you for free connections, free knowledge and free services and/or products. They’ll thrust their business card in your hand and try to get you to promise to connect them with everyone you know, real or perceived! They stick to your side; never let you go and will even follow you around the room. They prevent you from connecting with new people. Check your LinkedIn connections a few days later and they’ll have connected with all your connections.
Thinking about it, I have a both a friend and family member whose done that on Facebook. We barely speak to each other but we have 22 mutual friends. Yeah right.
These are the extrovert extroverts. They make even the seasoned networkers nervous. These are the people who walk right up to you, grab your hand, shake really hard and then shove their business card into your hand. They talk up a storm, don’t ask for your card, your name or what you do and then they usually move onto their next victim. You also usually see them at every event. This makes me uncomfortable because they probably think the same of me, although someone has usually specifically invited me or I’m attending with a guest. They normally attend on their own and found the invite through a spam mailer or by accident on the internet. They’re takers and do not intend to ever give. On the off chance they try to make a connection with you, it always comes with a hidden agenda. I know one of these. His name is Allan and he’s in “travel”.
When you attend your next function and there’s an opportunity to network, seek out genuine conversations and connections with people. Listen more, speak less and keep interactions to 3-5 minutes. Unless you really hit it off and start something there and then.
At BNI we’re encouraged to live by the philosophy of ‘Givers Gain’. When networking my philosophy is to give your attention and gain a connections trust.