How people think they should network vs What really works

I went to a networking event recently. It was basically a group of queer entrepreneurs and techies at a mixer promoting an upcoming SXSW panel.

I was not on my networking game this night. I was feeling pretty shy and unsure how to start a conversation with any one of the clique groups I saw standing about. Did they all know each other? Probably not, but that’s what I thought at the time.

Eventually I found some people I knew. I hovered around them awkwardly for a bit. A lady came over who knew the people I was hanging around and she started talking to me. She asked me what I do, but I could tell she was not invested in what I had to say. As soon as she could, she told me: what she did, what she could do to further my business and brand, she told me her name and asked me to connect with her on social media. She said she’d love to help me and loves helping small businesses.

She talked about her. She was trying to meet and greet in the most efficient way possible, by numbers. I didn’t remember her. I didn’t remember her name, until she found and friended me on Facebook a few days later.

I accepted.

Why? Because I also have something to sell to her. But we will probably never do business.

So what did she do wrong? Why was I not sold on her value proposition?

I don’t trust her. I don’t know her. She was not interested in me and she was not interesting or passionate enough for me to be interested in her and the products or services she is selling.

Here’s what she should have done:

  • Been engaged in what I was saying to her
  • Ask questions or for more information
  • Demonstrate other ways she could offer value to me other than selling her service
    • for example offering to promote my brand to her friends
    • sharing my events
    • liking my page right then and there
    • offer something unique
      • you are selling a service that others sell
      • what is different about the service you are offering?
      • is it cheaper? better quality? faster? innovative? more effective?
    • Talk about something other than work
      • asking what you do and what someone else does is not a good way to network
      • ask instead what they like to do
      • then you will hear about their passions instead of their responsibilities
      • if what they like to do involves what they do for work, you have a winner, a real passion chaser, these are the ones you want to connect with
    • Share personal stories, create trust where there is none, and establish that you trust them
      • trust builds trust
      • no one trusts someone who does not trust them
      • say something personal about yourself, make yourself vulnerable
      • it immediately establishes that you trust them, that you are putting faith in them to protect you in some way, whether it is to protect a secret, an embarrassment, or comforting you in a hardship, you are placing value in them by entrusting them with this personal story

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