Don’t Be a Networking Nemesis

selfish-578x295You have done your fair share of networking over the years. You have no doubt encountered someone who is loud, obnoxious, self-centered and dominates the conversation. I call her my networking nemesis, Natalie Networker. Have you met someone like this?

People like Natalie give networking a bad name because they only talk about themselves, don’t listen and don’t care who you are or what you have to say. Natalie only cares about one thing: the card, specifically, giving you her business card and collecting yours so she can enter it into her precious database when she returns to the office. She possesses no emotional intelligence or any form of self-awareness. She only wants to tell you how great and wonderful she is and remind you that you need to buy her product or service starting today. She doesn’t care about developing a relationship with you. She only cares about your data. She breaks all the networking rules.

Time for a reality check. You may find, if you’re not careful, that you have a little bit of Natalie Networker in you. It’s easy to fall into the trap of quantity (Have a goal of collecting 10 business cards at an event) rather than taking the preferred route of quality (Begin building one new relationship today). Here are a few tips to help you avoid being like Natalie Networker:

  • Invite the person into your space with engaging eye contact and a smile.
  • Treat people like they are more important than you are. Remember, it’s not just about you.
  • Look at the person’s business card. Read it. Too often this simple courtesy is ignored.
  • When you shake hands, shake like you are genuinely interested in meeting this person. No limp wrist or passive shakes, please. No bone crushing either. Find a comfortable medium.
  • Discover common ground (common interest, profession, background). You have a better chance of establishing rapport when you can find something in common to discuss.
  • Don’t overstay your welcome. Move easily throughout the room, from conversation to conversation. Having a half-full beverage in your hand that needs refreshing provides the perfect breakaway if and when you need it.

When you make connections with grace, people will run toward you rather than away from you when they see you at the next event.

Think about how you interact with people when you are networking. Is the conversation only about you, or are you genuinely interested in learning about the other person? Do you invade the other person’s space, or are you respectful and keep a comfortable distance?

Once you become more aware of your personal networking style, you will connect with greater confidence, make lasting impressions and build a solid network.