A colleague of mine recently flew to another country to attend a sizeable social event, which was meant to be fun. At this particular function, there were many people she knew. At one point, a successful entrepreneur came up to her and started a networking conversation after quick pleasantries that lasted less than a minute.
“Do you happen to know anyone who might be interested in our service?”
“I know you’ve started to develop contacts in Europe. Did you know that our company has done excellent work overseas?
My colleague told me that she tried to end the conversation as quickly as possible, after being confused as to why the entrepreneur would be bringing up business at a social affair in such a way. There’s a time and place for everything, and this place was not the time for networking conversations out of the blue.
Some people think networking is a waste of time and they don’t do much of it. Then you have other people who believe that every moment is the right time to be selling.
Networking is an art
The reality is that networking is an art. The reason why my colleague was immediately turned off to the approach by the entrepreneur, despite the fact that she appreciated and liked his work, was because she didn’t want to be sold to–particularly at a social function!
Networking has to happen in the right place and at the right moment. It’s not about meeting just anyone and blathering on about your successes and what you’re looking to achieve. It’s about getting in front of the right people to provide value to those people and also figure out a win/win.
The right people
My colleague was not one of the right people for the entrepreneur and his industry. She did not have any contacts in that industry, and as the entrepreneur began to pitch his business and successes, my colleague wondered why she was being pitched at a party on a topic and industry she barely knew.
As I said, there are people out there who believe that networking is a waste of time, and to a certain extent, that’s true. The reason for it is simple: people do what the entrepreneur did. They are not strategic about their networking. They talk to people just to talk and then wonder why they come away with nothing. To be successful at networking: