Business Networking: Stop Working the Room
Have you approached a business networking event as another "Room to Work"? What a mistake that could be.
Some networking experts might tell you to attend networking events and be prepared to "work the room". Stop and think about that advice. Is that what you want to do? Is that the first impression that you want to imprint on contacts in your network? That they were just "worked" by you? How would you feel when you have been "worked"?
Stop doing that. It can feel slimy to you and the people who you "worked". And more importantly it doesn't help build your business network.
It's not that those misguided networking experts mean ill for you. Perhaps they are telling you what they did. Maybe they ignored or got used to that slimy feeling. That's what often happens when one doesn't know better or stop to think about what they are doing. They just rationalize it with mantras like, "no pain, no gain". Sometimes slimy people are not bad - they just stop thinking or caring about how they appear to others. How can that be a good way to build a long term relationship?
Networking is not about working the room or working people. Networking is about building relationships that are mutually productive over the long term.
Consider these four principles of good networking:
- Networks are built on trust
- Networking is built on relationships
- Networking is built by connecting with people
- Networking is about people - not rooms. And people don't like to be worked
Work the Room
You might as well just enter the room - shout your name for all to hear then throw your business cards into the air - and then leave with a flourish. You worked the room and let everyone know how little you thought of them. And you did nothing to build a strong network.
Sometimes the event organizers themselves are guilty of forcing you to work the room. They want to sell more events so they bully you to play their networking game. They announce their game: In the next five minutes give your business card to as many people as you can. What a stupid game. If you wanted to do that you would have been better to place an ad in the newspaper or throw your cards in the air.
Real networking is more about quality then it is about quantity. Networking is not about giving out your business cards to everyone in the room. Networking is not even about collecting everyone's business card. Yes, you should distribute and collect business cards, but real networking goes deeper than that.
Make a Better Business Connection
Sustainable networking starts with making a connection and finding some common ground. Then you work at building a relationship that can last years and build profitable opportunities for both of you. Don't focus on the event and don't work the room. Instead, treat the room as a setting. Make some connections and build your network by working the relationships.
The next time some "networking expert" tells you to work the room - tell them. "Don't slime me. I didn't come here for the room. I want to connect with people."
Stop working the room. Instead, start building more profitable business networks by building real relationships.
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