I once went to a business networking event. A young sales guy came up to me and after introducing himself and without even asking my name, he started selling.
I was so impressed with his presentation that the details are etched in my little puny brain. Apparently, his name was such and such. He worked for a company called something or other, which was a leading provider of stuff that did cool shit and their stuff was way better than other people’s stuff because the shit it did was cooler than the lukewarm shit of competitors. It was the stuff that dream stuff were made of. It went on like that for about 2 more minutes and as he stopped to take a breath, I rudely interrupted with….. You know what? I’m a one-man shop and I don’t need stuff and I make my own shit and I flush my own toilet.
Him, “Oh, excuse me,” and on he went to spew at his next victim.
This guy didn’t ask me one question. Not a one. Not my name. Not what I did. Not even something like, why do you dress like a stupid urban cowboy? No, he showed no interest in me. He just went into his Auto-Spray-And-Pray mode. Spray bullshit against the wall of me and see if any of it stuck. He was dressed well, his shoes perfectly shined, his smiley pearly whites rivaled the brightness of the sun. He was a new-age Willy Loman, hoping to get by on a shoeshine and a smile.
He needed a bit of new-age sales training and a few lessons on how to network.
Lesson #1: If you want to be interesting, be interested – every human is tuned to one radio station. WIIFM, or What’s In It For Me radio. You (not the you, you… the other person you. The you sitting across from you) is the most cherished word in the English language. You want people to take an interest in you? Show them you’re interested in them.
You want people to take an interest in you? Show them you’re interested in them.
Lesson #2: Care About Others – It’s not good enough to pretend to care. You must really care. You don’t have to be Mother Teresa to care about other people. I’m the most selfish person on earth. I care about others for selfish, self-interest or as a friend has called it, enlightened self-interest. I understand that taking care of others results in them taking care of me. Ask and You shall receive does not work as well as Give and you shall Get.
Give and you shall get.
Lesson #3: Asking Is Better Than Telling – Don’t just spew. Do more than spray and pray. Ask questions. Engage in a conversation and not a lecture. By the way, a conversation is different than an interrogation. There’s a balance between asking and grilling someone on the hot seat. Get to know the person and their needs and wait until they ask in return before you tell them about you. Forget the elevator pitch… try finding what the other person cares about.
Do more than spray and pray.
Summary: Think of networking as a way to meet people and not to sell people. Use meeting them to get to know them and not to let them know you’re a dweeb. Treat it like a first date and don’t try to get in bed with them as soon as you say hello. Earn the right to ask of them by being interested, interesting, and giving.
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