Networking Mistakes: Being Memorable for All the Right Reasons

Those who know me know that I’m not exactly a social butterfly. When I go to a conference or other networking event, I’d rather come away with the business cards for 10 people that I’ve made a really meaningful connection with than exchange 200 cards and not be able to place names with faces on 190 of them.

But at every networking event, there’s always one (or two, or 10) who stand out for all the wrong reasons. The most egregious of those is The Deal Closer.

You know The Deal Closer. This is the person who corners you, talks your ear off and generally makes you want to pull the nearest fire alarm just to escape their clutches. They won’t take no for an answer. This is an actual example from a recent event:

“You’ve done work at Cisco? I’m trying to get into Cisco. Ugh, it’s so awful, I leave message after message for their VP of Public Affairs but no one ever returns my calls. And it’s ridiculous, because I’ve been doing public affairs for 18 months and I’m really fabulous at it and I know that I’d be a great Director of Public Affairs for them and do you think that you can get their VP to call me back?”

“I don’t know anyone in public affairs at Cisco,” I replied. “I haven’t had a project there since last year, and it was an entirely different department.”

“But you’re already in and how hard would it be to make a few phone calls on my behalf? Because I’m absolutely the best at what I do and all they need to do is just return my calls and I’m sure that you could get me in the door with your contact. Let me call you Tuesday. Can we meet for lunch? I want to talk some more about how you can help me.”

I felt like she was trying to sell me a car. The truth is this: in my experience, networking doesn’t have immediate ROI. That lunch today or coffee next week may not turn into work for three months or even three years. But it’s part of my job as a businessperson to use informal, non-pushy methods to ensure that I’m remembered for all the right reasons. I want people to look back on our conversation and think of me as someone that they actually want to work with.

Every client has thousands of freelancers to choose from. Be the kind of person that they remember fondly.

Are you memorable? Or have you met someone recently who was memorable for all the wrong reasons?

BTW: For more on networking for “introverts”, read this abstract from “Stop Pushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive” by Ilise Benun.

3 thoughts on “Networking Mistakes: Being Memorable for All the Right Reasons

  1. Stacey King Gordon

    It’s so true … networking events become so unpleasant when you’ve got the one person trying to suck every drop of blood from everyone around her.

    Networking is about sincerity, not about bloodsucking! It all comes back to being authentic. When you’re speaking with someone, are genuinely interested in making a connection and finding common ground with that person, and are forming an emotional bond – it may come back to reward you in the long run. Not definitely, but maybe.

    The ROI for me in networking is that I grow a little more by learning more about people in my industry … also that I get myself out of the house and practice my social skills every once in awhile. If I meet someone who could be a good collaborator someday, GREAT. If I meet someone who could be a reference or client someday – phenomenal. But it’s almost a tertiary goal; I never walk into a networking event expecting that to happen.

    1. Alisa Bonsignore

      I know that you feel my pain because you’ve been there when I’ve experienced some of the worst!

      That’s a good, concise list: the likely result of networking is information, then collaboration and THEN business. I wish more people understood that upfront.

  2. Luke Mysse

    I’ve found that sales and closing deals is all about posture…

    First, you have to be in the posture to begin with. Networking, marketing, sales calls, good followup, meeting new people etc. All good things that sometimes lead to work indirectly. It’s because you’re in the ‘posture’ of selling that you stay busy vs being in a posture of slouching or leaning too far back.

    Second of course is the ever present bad posture of being too forward…aka selling snake oil.

    With networking the prize is the relationships, not the stack of business cards. Give me one new contact I can have a lunch with vs 10 business cards that I throw away.