On Being Genuine

Some folks just set conversational snares

I’ve said in the past that truly great networkers almost have to have a split personality. They have to position their networking in a strategic way to bring themselves into contact with their target market and those who serve that target market. Then, when the relationship building part of networking starts, they have to forget about that “strategic” part of the process and just be genuinely interested in the people they meet.

They basically have to be willing to give of themselves with no expectation of return.

The problem a lot of new networkers (and those who are just plain ineffective) run into is that lack of expectation. I experienced this the other day at an event I attended. It was toward the end and most of the other guests had left. I and a long-time acquaintance were chatting and catching up a little. One of the other stragglers walked up to us and introduced himself. I don’t have any problem with that. He then asked about our lines of work. This is still a good thing to do, but something felt a bit off about it. Then I realized what it was.

He was “technique-ing” us.

He had learned about the technique of mirroring — the conversational behavior that causes most people to ask the same questions of you that you asked of them. He was using it to get us to ask him about his business. I actually recommend this as a general skill to develop. The part that he lacked was a genuine interest in us. It made the whole process feel fake — or like a trap — which it was.

No matter what networking skills we learn, we must always remember that the underlying purpose of those activities is to develop strong relationships. If we try to use them to push our own agenda, our victims will recognize it and start steering clear. I hope that young gentlemen we spoke with learns that soon or he may be in for a relatively unhappy time in his networking career.

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About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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