DON'T MAKE THEM CRAVE POPCORN
Have you ever heard of a first date that went horribly, horribly wrong?
As all the gory details are spilled, you wish a bag of popcorn magically appeared because you’re captivated, amused, in disbelief and horrified all at the same time.
Well welcome to the world of business networking.
When I teach people to network, one of the first things that I say is, ‘Pretend you’re on a first date with everyone you meet AND pretend you are really, really into every single person you encounter’, meaning of course, you’re on your best behaviour.
When you meet someone for the first time while you're networking you should act like that person is the most fascinating person that exists. Give them time to tell you about themselves and their business, in fact, ask questions so that they can tell you more. Be engaging, and, unless you're absolutely sure you have something massive wedged between your front teeth, smile.
If the person on the other side of the conversation does the exact same thing, it could lead to an enjoyable encounter and even a follow up meeting where you may even discover a new customer, new referral source or a new friend. If however, the person is spewing verbal diarrhea on your new business shoes, then do what I do …. run for the hills (and hopefully the run will clean off your shoes a little, after all, as entrepreneurs we are also always multitasking). If a person is that aggressive now, just imagine what they are going to be like when they think you want to do business with them.
When I meet someone who doesn’t respect my contribution to the conversation, and when you network there is almost always another entrepreneur like that in the room, its okay to cut the conversation short. Your time is as equally as important as theirs and if they are not treating you and your business with respect, then network with someone else that does.
When I find a ‘taker’ (someone that is all about them), this is usually when I thank the person for their time, wish them the best in their business endeavours and graciously move on. Perhaps if you are feeling a bit mischievous, go speak to that persons competition for a bit. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners recognize the need for mutual respect, for those that don’t, it’s really their loss, not yours.
Networking, just like dating, is about building a mutually beneficial relationship. Remember to be on your best behaviour. Treat others the way you want to be treated and give no one reasons to point you out for negative reasons. Follow these simple rules and hopefully, the next time you go to a networking event, no one will be subconsciously craving for popcorn when they see you.