Defined as: To approach strangers and beg for money or food.
This word has such a negative connotation, and rightfully so; it automatically brings up an image of a person in tattered clothing on a street corner asking everyone that walks by for change, followed by some sad story to appeal to your emotional side, which rarely works because we’ve become so cynical and jaded by our previous interactions with “panhandlers.” Many times, when networking is done wrong, it looks and smells a whole like panhandling.
You can spot the ones who have been told to “network,” but given no instructions other than, “Go meet people.” So they put on their best clothes, go to a networking event, and talk to everyone that walks by, followed by some book-read theology to appeal to the other person’s interests, which rarely works because they’ve become so cynical and jaded by the previous interactions with these “networkers.”
Sound familiar? Bad networkers are simply approaching strangers and begging for money or food.
Challenge: If you see one of these panhandling networkers, stop them in their tracks, and ask a few personal questions, and give them the opportunity to engage in a quality conversation. They’re doing what’s been asked of them, and we can help by slowing them down. Give it a try; you might surprise yourself and them!
Here’s a winning strategy for networking, and it won’t cost you a thing: be yourself! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again: people do business with people they know and trust. If being you doesn’t win the relationship, that’s okay; move on. The best networking plans mean nothing if you have to put on a game face and try to impress people by being someone you’re not.
Here’s another simple tip that’s worked for me and few others I know. When you enter the room, find the person that no one is talking to, the one that’s standing alone on purpose away from the groups. Little do you know they are dying for someone to approach them. They want so bad to make a connection but the fear of not knowing what to say is paralyzing them. You can be the one to break them out of their shell. “Can you believe we got up this morning for this?” said with a sarcastic grin. The rest will take care of itself, and you’ll be amazed at what happens next. If your goal is to meet as many people as you can when you go to networking events, you’ve missed the point. Go to these events for the sole purpose of meeting a few new contacts that you can follow up with and build a mutually beneficial relationship. You may never do business with them, but then again, that shouldn’t be your goal either.
Invest in people, and you’ll always be rich.
Craig Miller is the Founder & Director of B2B Networking Chattanooga, for more information go to: www.b2bnetworkingchattanooga.com or contact him at email@example.com