n an article by Ivan Misner, a VIP contributor to Entrepreneur, titled, “Are You a Desperate Networker?” one of the attributes he identifies as a desperate networker is the person guilty of “premature solicitation.” His exact description is this:
“This is the person who confuses networking with direct selling. She meets you and immediately goes into sales mode. She wants you to do business with her without asking questions about you, your business, your interests or your needs first. To this person, everyone is a target and every target is a dollar sign. These people are the reason why many individuals don’t like to go to networking events. They go to meetings and feel slimmed by people soliciting them for business. They leave the meeting and run home to get a shower.”
Have you ever encountered this person at a networking event? Sure you have. We all have. Here is a tougher question: Are YOU this kind of networker? Be honest with yourself. Do you immediately go into “sales mode” at any and all Chamber, or any other networking events? My guess is that if you do, you can’t really see the people through the potential dollar signs in your eyes. You can easily bounce around from event to event with no results and a great deal of frustration. Am I right?
Now, let me ask you this question: Do you focus on people as, well, people, and not prospects? By asking this question, what I’m really asking is, are you focusing on how you can get to know someone and what you can do for that person, instead of what that person can do for you? For me, the questions are, what can I learn about you? And how can I add value to you and/or your organization?
I recently have a new friend in Sam. Sam is a great guy. He reached out to me to get together. We met for coffee. We talked for a while. We talked about life experiences. We talked about family issues, and I shared about a life circumstance I am dealing with right now (probably more than he expected he would hear!). I learned a lot about Sam, and Sam learned a lot about me. You know what we didn’t do that afternoon? We didn’t try to “sell” our wares to each other.
Here’s what I do know from our time together--that guy has integrity. He is a realtor. I’m not in the market to buy or sell a house right now, but if I hear of anyone who is, you better believe I will do everything I can to convince them to make Sam their realtor. Why? Because Sam focused on me as a person, not a prospect, and I know he serves his clients with integrity. Because of that, I will do everything I can to add value to him and his business. At the same time, my professional services are not what he needs right now, either. However, I suspect that if he talks to someone who needs the services I offer, he will enthusiastically refer me and do what he can to help make that transaction happen.
Without us getting together like that, I would know very little about Sam. Definitely not enough to refer him to a friend, nor would he refer me to one of his friends, and rightly so. Taking the time to get to know someone personally is powerful!
Winning cultures in organizations focus on people, not processes. Winning relationships in networking focus on people, not prospects. At your next “networking” event, do your best to ask questions and get to know the people you talk to and maybe find out how you can help them without trying to sell them something. I’ll be willing to bet you will have a great experience!
Our Guest Writer, Travis Jacob, is the Co-Founder and Chief Culture Consultant of Ultimate Synergy, LLC, A company based in Lake Nona that consults with organizations to help build and maintain a foundation for a strong and winning culture by taking care of people and focusing on team relationships.