By Phil Stella
Ever meet someone at a networking event who turned you off quickly with a negative first impression? Or who really annoyed you with ineffective follow up?
I have — lots of times. I call them “networking slugs.” They earn that designation for different reasons, but mostly because they don’t practice the simple art of permission marketing. Here’s what networking pros do to avoid that title when networking or building relationships.
- Pros don’t give their business cards to you. They wait for you to ask for it or they ask if they can give you a card. They often write a note on the card they give you. Slugs shove cards in your face, especially when they begin the conversation. Most of those cards wind up in the trashcan on your way out of the venue.
- Pros respect your time. They indirectly ask permission for only a few minutes of your time at an event by not dominating the conversation or talking too long. When they do follow up with you, they ask within the first few seconds, “Is this a good time for a brief follow up chat on …?” They pause to allow you time to respond and honor your request. Slugs talk too much and too long and jump right into it when they call.
- Pros engage you. They talk less and listen more. They tell less and ask more. They know we love telling our own stories more than listening to others. After a short conversation, they’ve learned more about you than you have learned about them, except that they’re excellent conversationalists. Slugs tell too much for too long and it’s usually about themselves.
- Pros don’t send you anything you didn’t ask for. When discussing a potential business opportunity, they ask you what material or information you would like from them. They don’t automatically send you a resume, brochure, samples or other collaterals without asking first. Slugs kill a lot of trees by sending you unwanted material that goes directly to your recycling bin.
- Pros are helpful. Once they’ve established the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship, they often ask how they can help you or whom they can connect you to. Slugs ask for something from you very quickly, usually before they’ve even attempted to earn it.
So, if you want to network and build relationships like the pros and never be accused of NSB – that’s Networking Slug Behavior – master the simple art of permission marketing.
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, where he empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the University of Phoenix and the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.