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.