How important is networking to your business? To your career? Do you go to networking events? Do you still go to networking events? Do you network actively at events not specifically designed for networking? With whom do you network? How do you network?
I hope you know the answers to all those questions, and that you are pleased with your answers. I trust you network in a professional manner and do your best to engage with the people you meet, follow-up with them and form meaningful and mutually profitable relationships! In so doing, have you encountered people who behave in ways that are probably rather irritating to you?
One of these behaviours is mistaking networking for selling or even prospecting. I happened to attend a networking event not so long ago. As usual, I started to follow-up with the people I met via email, asking if we could meet for coffee or tea at some suitable time in order to get to know each other’s business better. One of the people I met responded with great enthusiasm. That person started selling to me almost immediately. Knowing that it was possible that such people could actually be trained to network properly, I politely declined but still arranged to meet at a certain date and time, emphasizing the fact the we ought to get to know what each other’s business better in order to see how we could complement each other. The person agreed, but then promptly proceeded to invite me for other meetings and seminars that I wasn’t at all interested in going to. That started to irritate me but I managed to decline gently and firmly. A few days before we were supposed to meet, I got a message reminding me of that meeting. I responded that I had already scheduled the meeting and would definitely be there without having to be reminded. I said that we ought to honour our agreements as professional business people, and that included our meetings. The person responded by saying that it was “normal” for reminders to be sent. I said I didn’t know what was normal, but for me, it was rude and unprofessional. The person started whining about me being too hard and cancelled the meeting. That was fine with me, because I could now use that time slot for something else. I erased that person from my records after that.
Have you encountered people like that? How did you respond? Share your experiences!