10 People You Don’t Want to Encounter at a Business Networking Event
At certain business networking events you may come across one of the following characters who turn up from time to time. Watch and learn from them: you do not want to become one of these nuisances!
The Jacket Patter
You’ve sent e-mails to everyone asking them to confirm that they’re coming to your event. One person hasn’t responded. You’ve called everyone. One person went straight to answerphone. The format of the meeting hasn’t changed in four years and it’s always been £10 for breakfast.
But someone arrives in a fluster, half an hour late and just as breakfast is being served. You ask for £10 for breakfast and the panic really starts. ‘Oh, it’s £10 is it? Okay, I think I put my wallet in this pocket. Oh, maybe I’ve left it in the car. Right, I don’t have my wallet, can I owe it and bring it next week, and add it to the last two weeks that I forgot as well?’
The Jacket Patter’s business introduction is the killer though: ‘Oh hi, I’m from Acting Business Consultants and I can show you how to be efficient, organised and above all, how to manage your time’.
The Hard Sell
The Hard Sell treats every one-to-one as an opportunity to broadcast their product or service to you, often without drawing breath.
You’re subjected to a verbal barrage telling you exactly why and how your business/life/phone system/significant other/family pet can benefit from whatever it is they have to sell. Which is funny because, up to this point, they haven’t even asked your name, and have no idea what you do. They’re sure, though, that they can revolutionise it.
The Hard Sell knows exactly how to deal with objections and has brochures, leaflets and/or a PowerPoint presentation ready for you.
The good thing is that you’re unlikely to meet them again. Having visited three networking events and managed not to sell to anyone, they quickly decide that networking doesn’t work!
Easy to spot this one, usually because this week they’re representing the next big thing; the business opportunity they were representing last week having not lived up to expectations / being still in ‘pre-launch’ phase / now shut down by trading standards. They’ll either be carrying several packets of what they’re selling or wearing large comedy badges with things like ‘Get rich now – ask me how’ or ‘I lost ten stone in three days – and so can you!’
The Zombie will tell you that this opportunity is the ‘real deal’. They’ll explain in detail how the double-matrix compensation plan allows them to earn royalties on all of their downline. They’ll tell you that now is the perfect moment for you to get in on the ground floor and benefit from the pre-launch offer where you can sign up for free – that’s right, for free. All you have to do if you want to earn any commission is qualify by signing up for £200-worth of product for a minimum of twelve months.
And by the way, you only need to recruit five people between now and next month and you’ll be earning at least £5,000 a month just from doing that! But it’s not a ‘get rich quick’ scheme . . .
The Phone Addict
‘So, tell me a little bit about – oh, sorry, do you mind if I just take this call; it’s an important client?’
So, having agreed to have a one-to-one, you’re now sat there listening to someone else’s telephone conversation. But that’s fine, because they already told you this was an important client . . . more important than you, obviously.
Occasionally, they’ll have enough time in between calls to talk to you, and might even look up from the phone occasionally, which they’ll be checking continually, as they wait for an important e-mail.
How are you feeling now? The client that called was important; the e-mail is important. Are you wondering where you fit in?
More to the point, how did the Phone Addict ever get the important client in the first place?
The Attention Seeker
Perhaps they’re wearing a Mickey Mouse tie, or a pink neon dress, or even shorts – the Attention Seeker has worked out that they need to get noticed to get ahead!
Using a combination of eye-watering fashion and a particularly loud voice, the Attention Seeker does get noticed, but often for all the wrong reasons.
Getting noticed and making sure people pay attention to what you’re offering is a key part of networking, but sometimes the message gets lost.
The Attention Seeker thinks that, instead of focusing on their product or service, the thing to do is make an impact, tell stupid jokes during their introduction and heckle other people in a way that they find amusing. They do get noticed – but usually as ‘that really annoying person who was here last week’.
The Introduction Hogger
You’ve checked your watch three times. The Chair has made the appropriate noises, but still the Introduction Hogger carries on.
Believing that everyone else in the room wants to know their whole life story, plus the history, stock market standing and future plans of their business, they just go on, and on . . . and on.
Perhaps they haven’t noticed other people’s eyes starting to glaze over, or the furious ‘wrap it up’ and watch-pointing movements being directed at them.
By the time you’ve heard ‘our company prides itself on our professional and forward-looking approach’ you’re really starting to lose the will to live.
And the worst thing? By the time they get to the end of their epic, hardly anyone in the room can remember what it is they actually do!
The Card Slinger
You might not even have had a conversation with the Card Slinger before you get their card. Often, they go round the table before the event and make sure their cards or leaflets are on each place setting, confident that you really want to hear about their offering over and above the other 30 people in the room.
If they don’t make a little pile of paperwork on your place setting they’ll make a beeline for anyone they don’t know explaining, ‘We haven’t met yet, here’s my card, why don’t you give me a call?’
Do you really phone the people whose business cards you’re given at random? Would you refer someone just because they gave you a business card? All it does is take up space on your already cluttered desk!
Typically found at evening networking events, the Drunk thinks that having three glasses of the complimentary red wine before the event starts is a sensible thing to do.
Bright red and sweaty, they manage to get eye contact with you and slur and mumble through telling you about their business, breathing cheap red wine fumes at you as they do so.
Using a chair, the wall, or you for balance, they ramble through everything that their business does, often repeating themselves. They’ll ask you, more than once, what you do for a living and then make no reference to it at all as they continue.
Disturbingly, their business is always either management consultancy or business coaching/mentoring – just the sort of person you need helping you to get organised!
Even more worryingly, you occasionally encounter the Drunk at breakfast events . . .
‘Of course, during my time at XYZ Ltd, we had a turnover of £500,000,000 and had over 10,000 staff in 12 different countries. I made the decision to downsize of course. The types of clients I’m looking for are blue-chip companies. I’m really not sure that anyone here could afford my services.’
Have you met the Pontificator at a business networking event? They have a Mercedes in the car park, and wear a swanky business suit. They tend to avoid anyone wearing jeans or creative types that they presume won’t have the budget for them. What opportunities they miss!
The Multiple Hat Wearer
The Multiple Hat Wearer often works in completely unrelated businesses: ‘Hi, I can help you save money on your utilities. I’m also a social media mentor.’ Huh?
If you were just about to have root canal work, would it worry you if your dentist suddenly explained that they’re really a health and safety trainer but they also ‘do’ dentistry?
Many business people have more than one activity and income stream, but you need to know which one to take seriously. Do you really want to pay someone for something they ‘also’ do?