Is this networking?

For some people, the clue bus doesn’t pick up at their stop.

I was at the Selling Smart Workshop last Wednesday. My good friend and sales coach, Joe Marr, puts on this monthly event to help people learn some of the basics of good sales technique. I help as a member of his board of advisors for the event.

This week we were talking about the “30-second elevator pitch”.

Most of you know that I don’t think this is a very useful networking technique mainly because most people don’t want to listen to your commercial. That aside, there are times when it comes in handy.

As a part of the program, we were to pair off and tell the other person our “pitch”. One of the participants at the back of the room (let’s call her Linda) didn’t have a partner, so I jumped in to help out. Linda was having a hard time with the process and asked me to tell her my “pitch” first. She listened as I told her why my clients came to me — the pains my system addressed — and how they felt after working with me.

After listening, she blinked and said “Oh, I don’t need any help with that. I love to network. I’m very comfortable with it. I just don’t think it’s very useful since I don’t get anything out of it.”

Given the throbbing pain I suddenly had in my temple, I didn’t have a response to that. Fortunately, Joe called us back to order so I didn’t have to.

Later, thinking about the conversation, what I found interesting was how she had turned the most common misconception about networking on its head. You see, most people think that networking is sales. They go to networking events and try to sell, sell, sell. They usually end up with nothing to show for it.

Linda, on the other hand, thought that networking was simply socializing. She just went to talk with people. Both she and the sales-focused person, though, are missing the point.

Networking is about long-term relationships.

The events we attend are purely to make initial connections with other people. Then we need to go beyond that to extend and strengthen the relationship. After we’ve done that, then we can call upon these ties in order to achieve whatever goals we set in our lives.

I wish Linda could come to one of my workshops or even read this blog. Maybe she could pick up a few tips that would help her stop wasting her time and money. For now I guess she’ll be happy being the life of the party and having nothing to show for it when she gets back to the office.

Photo by By Careyjamesbalboa