Repeat after me: Networking is not sales.

Of all the mistakes people make in their networking practice (consciously or unconsciously), this one is probably the biggest. You see it all the time — people running around handing out cards, passing out brochures, and trying to “always be closing”. There must be a reason for it, right? So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here are the top 10 reasons you should be selling at the networking event.

  1. The panicky expression people have when you look their way. It’s funny how the people you approach always seem to know where the emergency exits are.
  2. Their eyes like donuts — glazed. It’s nice how they just give up after a while, isn’t it?
  3. All the glory of door-too-door sales, without the pesky success. Door-to-door isn’t hard enough. You want the challenge of doing it with twenty other salespeople in tow and every house you approach is throwing a party.
  4. Rejection, rejection, rejection. Relive your junior high school dance glory years!
  5. Your reputation as a “user” needs a little polish. Too many people think you might value them as a person? Care only about how they can benefit you. That should lock in your reputation.
  6. Those aren’t people. They’re prospects. Because everyone loves to be dehumanized.
  7. If you aren’t having fun, no one else should either. Hey, this sales, er, networking is hard work. They shouldn’t be expecting sunshine and rainbows out of you.
  8. When you run out of targets here, you can always join a new group. If you stop being successful here, there are always more groups who don’t know your reputation yet.
  9. Your brochure is one that no one will throw away. It’s not advertizing. It’s educational. The people who left it on the table obviously just didn’t take the time to read it.
  10. They don’t know how much they need you. It’s your duty to help people understand just how much pain they are in.

Yes, looking at this list, it’s easy to see why people prefer selling to their fellow networking event attendees instead of developing an actual connection with them. I guess I’d better order another case of brochures!

Photo by Claude Covo-Farchi