How NOT to Suck at Networking

Networking is one of the fastest and most effective ways to grow your business.  Building your business requires building meaningful relationships and these relationships blossom into referral sources, joint venture partnerships, speaking opportunities, and of course new clients. Networking is a great way to create the “know, like and trust” factor on a deep level.

But, I am going to be honest here. Many folks don’t see a good ROI from their networking efforts.

Here’s why…

Unfortunately, a good number of people would rather stick hot pokers in their eyes than go to a networking event (I know because I used be to one of them).  And the reason most people hate networking is because so many people suck at it!

I’ve observed 3 types of struggling networkers:

  1. The loner. This person is practically glued to their seat or attached to the wall just waiting for someone to talk to them (or actually hoping they will go unnoticed).  They are apprehensive about approaching someone because it feels awkward to go up and talk to strangers.  They may even be overstimulated by all the people and noise. If this is you, the key here is to be your own best friend.  Look for others who are also just hanging out on the sidelines and strike up a conversation with them. Once you are warmed up, you can move onto someone else who looks like they could use a new best friend.
  2. The pickup artist. You can’t miss the pickup artist. They only have one thing on their mind: picking up new clients or customers. They are the ones that are running around the room asking everyone to buy their stuff, join their program, or take advantage of some amazing opportunity. They are also the ones that “follow up” with you by adding you to their newsletter or ezine without your permission. Fellow attendees avoid this person like the plague. If you think you might be a “pickup artist,” the key is to come from a place of service first.  Instead of looking at everyone as a potential client, stop and ask, “How can I best help this person.”  The only way to answer that question is to ask the other person and listen to their response. You might help them best by introducing them to someone else in the room. They will remember you as a trusted resource and will likely want to show their appreciation in some way.  Remember to “give and you shall receive.”
  3. The cliquester. The cliquester is someone who has been going to a networking group for a while and tends to hangout with the same group of people all of the time.  These are the folks that always sit next to their BFF or hangout in circles while loners try (often unsuccessfully) to penetrate the barrier and get involved in the conversation. If you are a “cliquester” who likes to hang out with your buddies you are missing out on meeting new amigos. The key is to break free, get outside of your comfort zone and meet new people.  Set the intention that you will talk to at least X number of new people at every networking meeting you go to.

Instead of being the loner, the pickup artist, or the cliquester, you want to be “The Host.”

I don’t mean that you have to go and host your own event–you just need to pretend that you are hosting the event.  Go around the room and try to be of service to as many people as possible.  Make everyone feel welcome.  People will not necessarily remember your elevator pitch, but they will remember how you made them feel and that goes a long way in making an authentic connection and building a powerful and profitable relationship.

So here are my top 5 tips on how NOT not suck at networking:

  1. Do NOT sit alone expecting people to come to you (Pretend you’re the host and get off your butt).
  2. Do NOT run around the room trying to close the deal with everyone you meet (Pretend you’re the host and ask how you can best be of service).
  3. Do NOT hang out with your best buds the whole time (Pretend you’re the host and introduce yourself to people you may not have met before or spend some time with people you haven’t seen in a while).
  4. Do NOT follow up with people by adding them to your newsletter or ezine (That isn’t following up and building a relationship, that’s SPAM. Follow up in a thoughtful way).
  5. Do NOT go into any networking situation only thinking, “ME” (Think: “Who do I want to connect with?”and “How can we support each other?”).

So there you have it.  To sum it up, the best way to NOT suck at networking is to not be so “me-centered.”  I would love to hear your thoughts what makes networking work for you, so please feel free to leave your comments below.




About Tiffany deSilva

Tiffany deSilva is the founder, CEO, and visionary leader of BrightFire Women’s Business Network, LLC.

BrightFire Women’s Business Network is the premiere sales training and coaching resource for service-based women entrepreneurs who want to increase their sales, serve more people, and change more lives.

Feedback & Comments:

  1. What great tips, Tiffany. I especially like the reminder about not hanging out with those you know well. While it does give you catch up time, it doesn’t help any of the group meet new people.

  2. I think one of the hardest things to do is not hang out with people you know. One reason is that you feel comfortable doing it. I usually make a point to sit at atable where I do not know the people. It forces you to interact and talk to them.

  3. Tiffany, I am rolling on the floor laughing! Yes! We have all been there. Let me share a tip that I use- I actually look for the loner and go out of my way to speak to them at a party. You would be surprised how extremely grateful those naturally shy people are that an extrovert approaches them and invariably they have an interesting story to tell!

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