A friend of mine called me the other day to tell me about a 'networking' experience she had. She met a man at an event and they exchanged cards. The man then contacted her and said he'd like to meet for coffee to get to know her business better.
So far, so good.
Unfortunately, when they met he started into his pitch. He monopolized the conversation and spent the entire time talking about his business, how it could help her, and how it could help her clients. Instead of creating interest he had completely turned her off.
Now this concerned me because I know this man and thought he understood the art of networking. Apparently, I was wrong.
The question becomes, do you really get it? Do you really understand that networking is about relationship building, about learning about the other person so you can refer them when possible?
Here's a checklist you can use when you enter a conversation to make sure you are keeping on track:
1. Do I know what this person does?
2. Do I know what they believe?
3. Do I know why they do what they do?
4. Do I understand the value they bring to their clients?
Notice I have not said anything about YOU! The checklist does not include whether you have told them anything. It DOES include guidelines for how much you are learning about the other person.
Before you open your mouth, ask yourself if you are about to say or ask something that will answer 1 or more of the above questions. If not, your focus is in the wrong place.
Now go network!