Saturday, December 5, 2009

I'm Not Here to Talk Business

What is your approach to a networking event?

Most individuals I see at networking events, I attend 2-3 per month, fall into 1 of 3 categories:
1) Attending to hang out with current acquaintances or clients only
2) Attending to start a relationship with 1-2 new people and reconnect with current contacts
3) Attending to hand out as many business cards as possible in a 1-2 hour span

The last group makes me crazy and, I feel, is the reason for this common interaction at networking events.

Common Acquaintance - Hamish, meet Fred. Fred is the VP Marketing for A Consumer Brand Corp.
Me - Pleased to meet you Fred, Hamish Knox with A Marketing & Advertising Agency
Fred - We do all of our ad work in house

Hmmm. No pleasantry, no "how do you know our Common Acquaintance," just "I have no interest in talking to you because I assume you're going to talk business with me."

I appreciate this is a defensive move honed over years of pushing away salespeople who see networking events the same way a shark looks at a school of tuna; however, to completely cut off the opportunity to get to know a new person just because Fred thinks I might talk business is ludicrous to me.

If business is truly about relationships then shutting down the opportunity to develop new relationships makes me wonder why Fred would attend networking events at all when he could maintain current relationships elsewhere.

What do you think? What would your response be to Fred's reaction?

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