Cleveland Business Connects

The June Amplify luncheon, held June 28 at Windows on the River, featured remarks...

Networking worst practices

By Phil Stella

I’ve seen a lot of networking worst practices in my 25 plus years of writing and speaking about the topic, but the worst of the worst is making an absolutely terrible first impression on a stranger in less than one minute by delivering an elevator speech from Hell. That happens when pitifully amateur networkers:

  • Hand you their business card at the beginning of the conversation instead of waiting for you to ask for one at the end.
  • Talk too much and too long while using too much jargon and an endless and list of what they do.
  • Lack vocal energy, enthusiasm, courtesy … or eye contact.
  • Turn it into a rambling unfocused monologue instead of beginning a concise dialog.
  • Don’t return the courtesy by asking you questions and actively listening to what you say.
  • And shifting quickly from networking into selling … and pushy, annoying selling.

We’ve all regretted talking to people at networking events who’ve done many of the above things in such a short time. They quickly turn you off, branding themselves as idiots.

FYI … I prefer “elevator speech” to “elevator pitch.” “Pitch sounds like you’re trying to sell something. No one likes to be sold to. “Speech” sounds like you want to share some information. Even though the difference in connotation is subtle, it can impact the mindset of the person creating and delivering it.

Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, which empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative. He can be reached at (440) 449-0356.

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