I ran across this article by Scott Ginsberg and thought you would enjoy it. Networking is a term that didn’t exist (academically) until almost 40 years ago. Why you ask, because, before then it was called meeting people in your community and making friends.
By definition, the term networking is the development and maintenance of mutually valuable relationships. Some people think of it as schmoozing; others think of it as just handing out business cards, selling, marketing or small talk. Although those activities are part of networking, if that’s how you network, you may actually be wasting your time, or at a minimum, networking ineffectively.
The following are The 7 Habits of Highly Horrible Networkers™, by Scott Ginsberg and I agree with Scott that they can stand in the in your way of developing mutually valuable relationships. So, next time you attend your Chamber or Association meeting, BNI or if you are a professional woman, The Heart Link Women’s Network keep these ideas in mind so you can offer the most value to your fellow networkers.
Here are Scott’s 7 Habits:
Habit #1: Attitude Much like the development of any skill, networking begins with attitude. Unfortunately, Highly Horrible Networkers have the wrong attitude. If you’ve ever attended a networking function before, perhaps you’ve encountered businesspeople who act in the following ways:
- The hard sell – they believe networking is about one thing and one thing only: selling products and services to everyone in the room.
- Business only – they’re not there to make friends. They’re not there to have fun. And they’re certainly not interested in developing mutually valuable relationships.
- It’s all about me – they don’t take the time to help and share with others, but rather focus on their own needs. In other words, they can’t spell “N-E-T-W-O-R-K-I-N-G” without “I.”
Attitude is fundamental to effective networking. In fact, it’s the most important habit to understand.
Habit #2: Dig Your Well WHEN You’re Thirsty One of my favorite networking books is called Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, by Harvey McKay. It’s probably the most well known text on this subject. The key to McKay’s work is making your friends, establishing contacts and developing relationships – before you need them. Getting what you want by helping others get what they want first.
Things good and bad networkers have in common:
a) They need new customers (well this one makes sense, who doesn’t need or want new customers, but you have to be concerned about what the people you meet need and want as well)
b) They have a new product or service to sell (This also makes complete sense. You choose to network because you have something of value to offer, but what distinguishes a horrible networker from a great networker is that great networkers also care about the produts and services that others have to offer.
c) They show up Horrible networkers are usually forced to attend by their bosses. Great networkers actively look for opportunities to network, meet new people and make new friends.
Habit #3: Dealin’ the Deck Habit #3 is a dangerous one, and it happens all the time. Have you ever seen people distribute 173 of their business cards during the first 5 minutes of the event? They move as quickly as possible from one person to the next. They don’t make eye contact, they don’t ask to exchange cards – they just deal them out.
“Here’s my card, call me if you need a designer! See ya later.”
“But…I…never even got your name!” you muse.
This is guaranteed to make people feel puny and insignificant. Notice these Highly Horrible Networkers don’t spend time actually meeting and establishing rapport with new people; but rather concentrate on giving out as many cards as possible. It’s quantity over quality, right?
Habit #4: Unprofessional Information It’s remarkable how often some business cards will contain unprofessional information. Have you ever received someone’s card with one of those ambiguous, offensive and questionable email addresses with AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo? Not only are those email servers frustrating and ineffective for business communication, but just imagine how it looks when someone has to send business emails to:
I have nothing against AOL, Hotmail or Yahoo. But if possible, always send and receive emails using the address of your organization’s website, i.e., firstname.lastname@example.org. If you must use free servers like MSN, SBC and the like, choose a simple username that doesn’t question your professionalism, i.e., email@example.com.
Habit #5: Sit with the Wrong Company I’ll never forget my first Chamber meeting. One afternoon I sat down with 6 other local businesspeople for our monthly networking lunch. Naturally, the first thing I did was look at everyone’s nametags. (Not only to learn their names but to examine the effectiveness of their nametags’ design and placement.)
But these were the nametags I saw: ADM Financial, ADM Financial, ADM Financial, ADM Financial, ADM Financial, ADM Financial, Scott. (Company name changed to protect the victims.) This is why attending The Heart Link Women’s Network is so effective. There is only one person per industry so you will never have this problem when you attend a Heart Link Network gathering.
Highly Horrible networkers not only attend meetings with their friends and/or coworkers, but they talk and sit with them the entire time! These are people with whom they’ve worked 5 days a week, 8 hours a day for the past 3 years! This is not a good technique to maximize your company’s visibility.
Habit #6: Small Talk is for Suckers Highly Horrible Networkers forget about the small talk. It’s a waste of their time. They don’t ask or answer about “New and exciting things happening at work” or “How Thanksgiving was,” they simply jump right into (what they believe to be) the most important part of the discussion: selling 17 of their products before the salad arrives.
Has this ever happened to you? For example, has someone ever introduced themselves, breezed right through the conversation and flat out asked you for a referral?
Refer you? I don’t even know you!
Reciprocating self-disclosure is the most effective way to build rapport and ultimately develop trust. The people you want to do business with are those with whom you have built that rapport and trust. So, small talk is not for suckers. Debra Fine, author of The Fine Art of Small Talk put it best when she said: “Small talk is the biggest talk we do.”
Habit #7: Limitations Finally, Highly Horrible Networkers believe there is only one specific time and place for networking. It’s called “A Room with A Sign Posted Outside That Says So.” In other words, they only network when someone forces them to. They don’t believe networking opportunities in places like elevators, busses, supermarkets or parks.
That’s it? A measly half hour for networking? Doesn’t give you much time, does it?
The truth about networking is that it can happen anytime, anywhere. There is a time and a place for networking – it’s called ANY time, and ANY place.
Scott Ginsberg is a professional speaker, “the world’s foremost field expert on nametags” and the author of HELLO my name is Scott. Scott works with people and companies who want to be more approachable so they can connect and communicate with anybody. For booking or more information, contact Front Porch Productions at (314) 878-5419 or email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dawn L Billings is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles on parenting, relationships, entitlement and networking and an ardent advocate for womens and children’s issues. Dawn is the CEO and Founder of The Heart Link Womens Network, Trova Women Business Directory and Trova Small Business Directory, The Heart Alliance.com international women’s networking organization and online community, and the creator of the new parenting toy/tool called Capables. In 2008 Dawn was selected by Oprah Magazine and The White House project as one of 80 emerging women leaders in the nation. Find out more and buy Dawn’s books To learn more about women networking check out our videos