Here at BNI, the world’s largest networking organization, we’ve got news for you: desperation is not referable.
When people demonstrate certain behaviors as part of their networking efforts, it’s a tell-tale sign of desperation. Here are four types of behaviors that desperate networkers exhibit:
1. The Card Dealer
This is probably the most common form of desperation I’ve seen over the years. The Card Dealer is a person who darts around the room passing out cards like they’re at a poker table. They don’t spend time really getting to know anyone (unless they think they can get something from them). To the Card Dealer, networking is mostly a numbers game. The more people they can pass their cards to, the better they’re doing (or so they think). Card Dealers tend to have a network that is a mile wide but an inch deep because they don’t spend time building relationships. It never works in the long-run and they just look inexperienced, frazzled, and yes – desperate.
2. The Space Violator
Here’s the guy who thinks the closer he gets when he’s talking to you, the more you’ll be interested in what he’s saying. Nope. Not even close. In fact, it has the opposite effect (especially if his breath has the aroma of a smelly camel). So, what’s the right distance to stand from someone without getting into their personal space? The answer to this question varies based on the cultural standards of the country you are in. In North America, it’s fairly common to have conversations at roughly “arm’s length” for people that you meet at a networking event. From my experience, that distance is definitely less in some countries around the world. What’s also interesting is the issue of gender and personal space or “proxemics.” According to a “Journal of Psychology” study, “male-male pairs tend to interact at greater personal distances, whereas female-female pairs tend to interact closer.”
3. The Premature Solicitor
The person guilty of Premature Solicitation (don’t say that fast three times, it will get you in trouble!) is the person who confuses networking with direct selling. They meet you and immediately go into sales mode. They want you to do business with them without asking questions about you, your business, your interests, or your needs first. To this person, everyone is a target and every target is a dollar sign. These people are the reason why many individuals don’t like to go to networking events. They go to meetings and feel slimmed by people soliciting them for business. They leave the meeting and run home to get a shower.
4. The New Best Friend
Follow-up with the people you meet at a networking event is important. But be a professional, not a stalker. The New Best Friend is the over-eager seller who after you meet at a networking event calls you, emails you, social media messages you, and tries to become your New Best Friend in the space of just a few days. Generally, they’re not actually trying to help you – they simply want to sell something to you. Granted, they may want to sell something to you because in their mind, it’s only to “help you,” but it’s never really about you. It’s about what they want from you.
Desperation seeps from their pores. I’ve experienced this many times over my career. The one that stands out the most in my mind happened a couple years ago. I met a young man (late 20s) at a networking event and he went right into “New Best Friend” mode – calling several times, emailing every day, messaging me on Facebook etc. But when he wrote me and said that he thought of himself like my son (yes, seriously – he said that) and he needed my help in his business venture – I had to pull the plug. I tried to pull it gently by talking about the importance of establishing credibility before pitching something and that the process of developing credibility takes time. Curiously, my “new son” abandoned me.
Desperation is not referable. Remember these behaviors when you go to networking events and whatever you do, don’t demonstrate these behaviors yourself. Remember that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. His latest book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect is available on Amazon. Dr. Misner is also the Co-Founder of Asentiv (www.Asentiv.com), a coaching and consulting company.