Scenario #1: You’re at a business networking event, and are approached by an enthusiastic woman. She says to you, “You really need to try my vitamins. You’ll feel healthy, more energetic, and get more done every day. When would you like to set up an appointment to meet?”
Scenario #2: You’re at a business networking event, and are approached by an enthusiastic man. He says to you, “You know a lot of people, right? Here are 5 of my business cards for you to give out to people you know.”
Scenario #3: You’re at a business networking event, and are approached by a man. He says to you, “Have you ever heard of my company? It’s been around for 24 years and was founded in a small town in Northern California where the trees are tall and the land is wild. It’s in this wilderness that a new vision was born, a vision of prosperity, a vision of hope, a vision of endless possibilities. Our founder was born in 1965 in a small town in Massachusetts. How did he get from Massachusetts to California? I’ll tell you the whole story…”
If you’ve ever been to a networking event, it’s likely you’ve encountered at least one of these scenarios. So how have you dealt with them in the past? Often, we just let these well-meaning folks monopolize our time, which leaves us feeling resentful that we spent all evening with a self-absorbed bozo who never even asked for our card.
Sometimes we cut them off and walk away. Not a bad solution, but it still defeats the purpose of networking, which is to create connections.
Try the following responses the next time you’re cornered.
Scenario 1. “I don’t need your product now, but if you can be specific about the kind of client you’re looking for, I’ll definitely keep my eye out for them. Give me one of your cards so that I’ll have your information when I cross paths with good referrals.”
Scenario 2. “I really love referring the people I know to the services they need, but would need to know more about who your ideal client is. If you can be specific about the kind of client you’re looking for, I’ll definitely keep my eye out for them. I’ll keep one of your cards so I can send them your way.”
Scenario 3. (interrupting them) “Let me stop you for a second, if you don’t mind. I do want to know more about what you do, and what would be most helpful to know is specifics about the kind of client you’re looking for, so that can keep my eye out for them. Give me one of your cards so that I’ll have your information when I cross paths with good referrals.”
You’ll notice a common thread through them all, of course. Each of them positions you as the expert networker, someone who is interested in connections and service, even when approached in a less than professional manner.
Jan Baudat says
Great ideas for responses. Very simple and easy to remember. I like it!!
Scott Taylor says
These are very helpful ideas Mary. I sure don’t like being rude to these types and these are very tackful responses. One I just recently experienced was a person who had had too much to drink and was past the social drinking level of intoxication. He just kept rambling on and on and stumbling closer to me invading the personal space protocol of close contact networking and not picking up on my signs I was done talking to him. I finally just told him I had to go the the restroom just to get away. Could you touch on your thoughts on alcohol consumption at networking events, I personally don’t imbibe at these, but for those who do, what would you consider the proper protocol?
Mary Cravets says
Scott, first of all, the way you handled that man was perfect. And the good news is that he probably won’t remember anyway…
Personally, I don’t drink at all, but my humble opinion about drinking at business events? In general I coach people to be sure to make a positive impression at these events. This impression includes your attire, handshake, confidence – and now I’d add alcohol consumption. Everything I teach about networking is about how to make it easier on yourself to make professional connections in a comfortable way. Adding alcohol to the mix (more than a drink or two, I mean) is a surefire way to risk looking unprofessional.
And the funny thing is, all these unprofessional approaches are taught by professionals in the field as ways to network (or at least ways to make sales…). A little more connection and a little less ‘patter’ would do a lot of good in the world.
Mary Cravets says
I really like your responses … and will definitely use them … as well as making sure I am NOT one of those doing the “cornering”!
Adam Cravets says
I may be biased but…Awesome!!
Mary Cravets says
I love your bias!
This is a great article and your responses are very professional. Thanks for this educational piece. If you ever see me acting like #1, 2, or 3 please shoot me. I work hard at listening more than I talk but I could easily slip into one of these people!
Mary Cravets says
Judy – it’s a challenge for everyone not to slip into the salesman role at some point. Especially when you really believe in what you do, and see how it can help other people. The good news is that if you slip into those roles, and then catch it the next day or week, you can always call that person and reconnect. I’ve made this mistake myself a few times, and when I called and followed up, it always ended up with a more solid connection. People appreciated hearing, something to the effect of “I realize that when we spoke the other day I wasn’t listening as well as I should have to you, and was really pushing my business. I’m sorry – I get excited and in my enthusiasm sometimes lose track of making a quality connection. Can we start over because I’d like to hear more about you, and make up for my faux pas.” People appreciate the honesty and humility!