Reading Time: 5 minutesNetworking requires engagement and involvement. It requires input and perserverance, a sense of giving and openness, tenacity, energy and interest. All the traits that you won’t readily find in the neglectful networker. We are going to focus on the face to face aspect of ‘neglect’ in this blog. What does the neglectful networker look like?
I often come across people who are new to networking and don’t know what to expect or how to network. And then there are others who’ve been told by their boss that they need to be a part of networking groups, but they really aren’t that interested in it and so they don’t make the effort.
As I say to my kids, when you know how to do something, it’s easy, but when you don’t know, or haven’t been given a path to follow, then it’s not so easy.
Networking is a skill, like any other. It takes practice and more practice, awareness and mindfulness.
It takes effort.
But what if there is no effort? What does that look like and what does it convey about you and your business? There can be a multitude of reasons for this ‘neglect’, but most of it, in my experience, comes down to mindset.
There are many people who dive into networking to solve an urgent problem, to get some last minute sales or to get a new job, as an example, but this approach is disingenuous and won’t yield traction.
What is completely missed is the fact that relationships have to be built, fostered and nurtured.
As we have moved online for all our networking meetings, the dynamic of the neglectful networker has changed a little, so let me review this from two perspectives:
- Face to face networking
- Online or virtual networking
In this blog, I am focussing on face to face networking and what the neglectful networker looks like, in my experience. I’ll dissect the online and virtual neglectful networking in my next installment.
Neglectful Face to Face Networking
Let’s start at the beginning:
The neglectful networker doesn’t arrrive early to have the banter and chats with the fellow networkers. They either arrive bang on time for the structured meeting or arrive late. Why is this important? Well, it’s called social capital. Social capital is built up with lots of micro interactions with people. It’s where the sense of trust, liking and cameraderie is built up. Your fellow networkers might know what you do, but they won’t engage with you unless they have built up the like and trust factor.
Boring 60 Second Pitches
The 60 second pitch at the networking meeting is the same each week. There has been no thought or interest put into fine tuning a 60 second intro on the company that is actually going to help the people sitting around the table, engage, spark curiosity or drive engagement.
Deadly Dull Presentations
The deep dive into the company presentation is exactly the same each time the person has the 10 or 20 minute slot. Again, no effort to revamp, update, educate the audience. Business Networking is not about telling the whole story of your business, but rather focussing in on an area and giving people enough information that they want to know more afterwards. The ultimate aim here is a little bit of education and keeping yourself top of mind, so people refer to you in time of need. We delve more into what to present at your networking meeting here.
Lack of Engagement
Building up relationships takes time. No engagement or involvement in the group to support others, e.g. supporting and commenting in the whatsapp groups. No introductions being made to your fellow networkers. No effort to do 1-2-1s and really get to know the other people in the group or in the larger network.
Neglectful networkers perk up when the person next to them is giving the 60 seconds, but other than that they show complete disregard and interest in who is speaking. They can be on the phone, looking at social media, writing emails. I’ve even come across someone taking a call during the meeting. Honestly, it’s a bit like driving your car. There’s nothing that urgent that can’t wait for an hour!
One Hit Wonder
I see many people who flit across lots of networking groups, but won’t commit. What does that tell you? It tells me, they are flaky. Is that someone you would want to deal with or put in front of your valued customers? I hope not!
Selling, Selling, Selling.
Business networking is not about sell, sell, sell. People who aren’t educated to the ways of networking think it’s all about selling their product or service. I once came across a gentlman who took a literal approach to the question ‘How Can I Help You’, not with a view to actually helping me achieve my goal, but looking at his company and telling me all he could do to sell me his products that would help me. Not quite the right approach and he completely missed the point.
The people who attend networking meetings do not want to be treated as prospects. They are equal to you. They are looking to educate others and get referrals. It’s very likely that you’ll do business with people from around the table, but don’t look at that as your source of business. Build relations to earn the right to be referred.
Not listening – again, on the phone, on email, on social media…day dreaming and zoned out. If you remember to listen with your eyes, you’ll also listen with your ears. Sounds funny right, but it’s true. You take so much in that is subliminal when you use your eyes and ears. Two of each after all!
No Follow Up
Top networkers know how & do follow up and keep in regular contact, be it on email, doing 1-2-1s, connecting on social media, engaging in the person’s content and the company’s content. We focus on this topic of follow up here.
As I said at the top of this blog. Networking takes time. It takes effort and I find that people are not aware of the importance of building social capital. Every interaction or lack thereof is noticed and often the little realisations are subliminal. For me, they go into a little databank, that I call, my little personal rolodex on people. I watch everything and I notch everything. It’s often the sense I have, after dealing with someone that is the key to defining whether I’d do business with them, alongside all of my other points.
But in essence, if you can’t take the time out to make the effort, why on earth do you think people should want to build a relationship with you or eventually purchase from you. The answer is: they won’t. Virtual and online neglectful networker is my next installment, so stay tuned!
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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