I’m guessing that they don’t want to be

A question came up during one of my recent presentations about how to break into a conversation. Of course, we’ve covered some of the techniques here in the past. The main point was that we have to be observant of the body language of the participants. If their body language says that they are having a private conversation, then it just doesn’t make sense for us to try to break into that. It makes us look pushy and won’t do anything to foster a new relationship.

The person who asked the question persisted, though. “What if you really want to meet one of those people?”

Well, in that case, if you really want to meet a person, feel free to throw any rules of etiquette out the window. Push right up and elbow that other person out of the way so that you can get in contact with your target. Of course, there will be consequences. Just like there are consequences if I walk into Best Buy and grab a big screen TV off the shelf and try to walk out with it. Just because I really want it, doesn’t mean I get to ignore the rules of proper behavior.

Of course, even assuming I’m following proper behavior, I should pause for a moment for a little reflection. I need to ask myself why is it so important that I meet this person? If it’s because someone told me that they could help me with a problem I have, OK. If I can connect them with someone from my network to their benefit, that’s good, too.

If I want something from them. Forget it.

You see, most of the time when someone tells me that there is someone whom they really want to meet, what they really mean is that there is someone they really want to sell to. Or maybe they want that other person to refer them. If we are trying to connect with someone for the sole purpose of benefiting ourselves, we are placing ourselves in the role of “user”.

Bad networking.

Remember the Golden Rule of Networking: Use only those techniques on others that you would wish they would use on you. I don’t care who you are. No one wants to be interrupted in order to be sold to. Approach respectfully with a genuine interest in how you can help them (with no expectation of return) and I’m sure they will welcome you with open arms (or at least a firm handshake and a smile).

Photo credit: Flickr user USCG Press