The business world is a real mix of people.
And nowhere is this more evident than at networking events. All types of business folk come to these gatherings for a fair number of reasons but meeting new people, making contacts, possibly forming relationships and winning business further down the line would be near the top of the list for most people.
One of my earliest network nightmares was at an evening event, a sit-down meal with speakers, who turned out to be informative and helpful. That’s more than could be said for the chap sitting on my right-hand side whose company supplied drain cleaning products. On and on he went about this solution and that detergent, the types of jobs his firm had undertaken, the problems encountered, the clients who caused him grief. “Excuse me, I’m eating,” I should have said. If someone could have magically flushed him away along with his pile of leaflets and their pie charts I would have been grateful.
On another occasion, I got stuck with the droner – rattling on interminably about his company after thrusting his business card down my throat within seconds of meeting me. Then, when someone else joined us, he did the same again – a double dose of boredom. At least I knew he wasn’t making me a special case.
Another event, another shudder. A woman asked me about my line of work. I started to talk but she, after examining my lapel badge, cut me off by saying that PR was a waste of time, no way would she ever, ever speak to the media because one newspaper had misquoted one of her friends and got her name wrong. Fair enough. Despite that, I asked what she did (a professional expert on everything, seemingly) and, 25 minutes later, my ears were bleeding. Taxi!
On the other hand, I’ve met some people who are excellent at network events as they share a conversation and are quick to introduce you to others they know. Heather Alexander at Clearsight Consulting definitely comes into this category - http://www.clearsight-consulting.com/
But, you live and learn and nowadays my experience at networking events is different. I go with a relaxed attitude, accepting that people are there for a shared purpose and that works for me.
I’ve also learned from reading generous online tips provided by the likes of Jackie Cameron of Cameron Consulting whose thoughts actually prompted this post.
On the Glasgow Business Network group page on LinkedIn there’s a harder-hitting discussion under way, equally interesting and relevant. http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Why-do-you-network-2226692.S.68244307?qid=d9166a43-54bd-4f4b-88f7-1cdd0098ec9c&trk=group_most_popular-0-b-ttl&goback=.gmp_2226692
No networking event or business gathering is the same for two people. How could it be? I like meeting new people and I find the follow-up contact, such as the “good to meet you” email, often brings about another 1-2-1 meeting and that can been good for business. Networking does not provide instant solutions nor immediate new business in my book.
You will, I hope, note that this post hasn’t been written po-faced. So if we meet at an event, I promise I won’t thrust a business card at you instantly, I won’t bore you with a lengthy diatribe about what I do and how wonderful I am at doing it. Instead, it would be good to have a chat and see what happens. OK?