Wednesday, June 24, 2009

When Networking Becomes Not-Working

Networking is huge. I'm doing it, you're probably doing it, lots of talented people are doing it -- to make contact with people who might have jobs or projects for them.

Networking, if done properly, can provide you with some great contacts. But it also can backfire if done thoughtlessly. I hope you won't be guilty of any of the following networking boo-boos I've encountered.

• Case #1: You know me, Joe. Don't you?

A guy I'll call "Joe" greeted me and welcomed me to a recent networking event. We chatted for a minute and exchanged cards. I remember Joe because he was the first person I saw there. But apparently, he didn't remember me. A couple of days later, I received an e-mail from him containing some text about his company which was evidently cut and pasted from a printed piece (It referred to some coupon "below" which didn't exist in the e-mail). Talk about careless.

Also, Joe didn't bother to add a personal salutation. In fact, there was no salutation at all. No "Hi, Liz. Good to meet you the other night. Thought you might be interested in this. Take care, Joe." Joe probably sends out the same e-mail to everyone he meets, and he can't be bothered with niceties like addressing recipients by their names. Oh, yes, and there was a PDF of a printed brochure attached. Think I'm going to take time to download and read it, after being treated like a nobody? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Moral: When following up with people you meet at a networking event, at least be polite enough to personalize your e-mail. You now know the person a little, so don't treat them like strangers and expect them to become customers or clients.

Case #2: Spam-a-Lot

A Meetup group I signed up for a couple of weeks ago hasn't met yet. But last week, I received an e-mail from a member of the group asking if I wouldn't like to host a sex toys party in my home. Mind you, this person has never met me, yet she feels fine about urging me to let her come into my home and demonstrate God knows what kinds of sexual devices. Hey! I don't THINK so!

I e-mailed her back, informing her how rude it was to send a total stranger a marketing message and asked if she had spammed all the members of the Meetup. I have received no reply, no surprise. My conclusion: She joined the Meetup only to get to more prospects. Rude! Bad Netiquette!

Moral: Don't use people. Don't spam people. Be nice, get to know them, and If you're joining a primarily social group, just be yourself and enjoy the companionship. Eventually, your business will come up, and once people know you, they'll be more receptive to hearing about it.

Case #3 - The Handshake of Death

One way to kill a relationship before it gets started is to give someone a bad handshake. One that's limp and clammy. Or one that makes you wonder if you'll come out of it with finger bones intact.

I met a woman last night at a networking event. I will never forget "Lou Ann," because if I see her again, I'm going to avoid her like a rattlesnake. Lou Ann's handshake is hazardous. A handshake is meant as a gesture of friendship, but Lou Ann's is an instrument of torture. When she gave me her Handshake of Death, I nearly cried, "Help!" After I started breathing again, I commented on the pain-producing power of her handshake. She explained that she'd been practicing a firmer handshake because someone had told her she needed to. Well, firm is one thing. A vise-grip is another.

Moral: If you're not sure how your handshake is, practice it on a few friends. See if they recoil in disgust from a "dead-handed" shake or howl in pain from your Hulk-like grip. If they do neither, you're probably okay.

If you've encountered any networking boo-boos, please let me know. And if you're a friend of someone who commits them, please let them know. You'll be doing them a big favor.

1 comment:

Brad Kelley said...

Great advice! Love you blog. =)