Seattle Community

Vicki Kriner
Purveyor of fun and pleasure
Portland, Oregon
Very helpful
7.6
out of 10
12 votes

How NOT to Network

Advice to ensure you never expand your network of business connections.

Written May 27, 2008, read 1774 times since then.
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Today, I had the experience that makes me a really, truly, seasoned networker. After meeting a women at a networking event, I followed up with a note thanking her for chatting with me, and asking her if she would like to meet for coffee.

After a bit of phone tag we finally spoke. Her response to my invitation to chat over coffee was a real surprise.

Kid’s don’t try this at home!

Me “Thanks for calling me back! We met at (name deleted to protect the innocent). I was calling to find out if you’d like to meet over coffee and chat about business.”

Her “No, actually, I called to tell you I wouldn’t be interested in meeting. You do “those” parties, don’t you?”

Me “Well, yes. We do a lot more than that, but yes we do parties.”

Her “No, I’m not interested in one of those, so I don’t think I’m interested in meeting with you. Oh, and by the way… you weren’t the person interested in what I have to offer, were you?”

Me, “Um, no. But – er, thanks. I don’t want to waste your time, but I do want to let you know I was not calling to sell you. I’m genuinely interested in meeting and networking with people. You have a nice afternoon.”

Click.

Sheesh. Wow.

She was in no way obligated to have coffee with me of course, but we DID meet at a networking event, and she had even indicated interest in meeting up to chat previously.

The More We Get Together, the Happier…

What I didn’t mention (because she never gave me the chance) was that in addition to belonging to several professional development and networking groups, I also chair the membership committee for a local Chamber of Commerce. Oh, and I wanted to invite her to a couple of upcoming networking events.

In my business I meet a TON of other women, some of who may have been interested in meeting a woman in her industry (which is mainly populated by men). Oh well.

You see, she didn’t look past what I do, and whether we could do business immediately. And that is not, not, NOT what networking is about. It is about getting to know other professionals and creating a blend of connections you can depend on, happily refer to your clients and friends, and hopefully do business with. But the value of your network does not lie in just how much money you can make by selling directly to them.

You never know whom the person you are meeting knows, or what else you may have to offer each other, beyond an immediate sale, if you don’t take the time to find out.

So, if you wish to expand your own professional network here is a quick list of 4 things you should NOT do when networking:

1. Hand your card to everyone you meet, immediately. Don’t ask for theirs.

2. Spend a lot of time telling people about what you do, and don’t ask any questions about what they do.

3. Try not to remember names, or learn about what people do, when you make a follow up call to see if they want to do business with you.

4. Don’t waste time getting to know someone if they do not want to do business with you immediately.

Learn more about the author, Vicki Kriner.

Comment on this article

  • Filmmaker 
Seattle, Washington 
Dan McComb
    Posted by Dan McComb, Seattle, Washington | May 27, 2008

    You AND your business are welcome on Biznik, Vicki. One of the reasons we created Biznik was exactly this - we wanted to create a community of people who judge you on something a lot more substantial than your hair color or whether your business falls outside of the box that some people would like to put you in. Biznik is a community of people who are passionate about their business. That's definitely you!

  • Relationship Manager 
Everett, Washington 
Lisa Kee
    Posted by Lisa Kee, Everett, Washington | May 27, 2008

    Wow! Some people I tell you what. They just don'e get it. The curiosity is killing me! I have to ask now...What is it you do? I love the analogy of everyone you meet knows at least 100 people you need to meet. Thank you for your article. I would meet you for lunch, but it is a bit of a drive from Everett, WA! :P

    Lisa Kee

  • Purveyor of fun and pleasure 
Portland, Oregon 
Vicki Kriner
    Posted by Vicki Kriner, Portland, Oregon | May 27, 2008

    Thanks, Dan and Lisa! I could feel the love immediately.

    You know, I was insulted for a nano-second, but a marketing coach I really admire and respect (Ronnie Noize) talked about a similar event happening to her once.

    She is the one who encouraged me to write about this! She's good at helping people turn challenges into advantages - and I have already gotten a lot of mileage out of a potentially soul crushing business rejection story!

    :D

  • Hospitality Trainer & Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Gina DuVall
    Posted by Gina DuVall, Seattle, Washington | May 28, 2008

    Halleluiah, amen! Thank you for your article. It's called Networking, right? It's about your network and my network, right? Otherwise it would be called something else. I don't go to events looking for clients, because I have no idea if I want any of those people as clients, or if they would even benefit from my sevices. However, they may know the perfect person, who could use my services (and who maybe lives right down the block from me, and maybe wants to pay me $1M? I mean who knows?!). Oh I could go on and on . . . love this topic . . . and really appreciate you taking the time to write about it better than I would have!

    Thanks, Gina DuVall Business Sculpting

  • Professional and Business Development & Communications Consultant 
San Francisco, California 
Sandy Jones-Kaminski
    Posted by Sandy Jones-Kaminski, San Francisco, California | May 28, 2008

    Hi Vicki, I feel your (initial) pain and great article! Good for you for writing this piece on Biz Nik. I have experienced plenty of what you described which is what motivated me to start hosting what I call PIF (as in Pay It Forward) Parties every other month. If you're curious, you can read more about them on my site, and I'd gladly invite you to one in the future. The idea behind it is that people come to the gathering with the intention of actually offering to help others first. It weeds out the non-pay it forward types, and creates a really nice atmosphere in which to network and connect. Biz Nik events are awesome, but this is something you can do as well to build and stay in touch with your own network which likely reaches outside of Biz Nik.

  • Art Director, brand, print and website designer, textile design,   
Portland, Oregon 
Angie  Burr
    Posted by Angie Burr, Portland, Oregon | May 29, 2008

    Hi Vicki, I'm a bit confused about your post. I agreed with all that you said until your 4 tips. It seems those tips recommend doing exactly what you stated as no-no's for networking and exactly what your networking contact did by not asking you any questions about what you do… etc. Am I missing something?

  • President 
Reno, Nevada 
Dave Johnson
    Posted by Dave Johnson, Reno, Nevada | May 29, 2008

    I think her advice really stinks. If you want to network appropriately, be sure to do the opposite of what she suggests. Business is about being interested in others and what they do, not just an opportunity to talk about your own deal. When you find out about others and their interests, then you may discover their "hot button" and how to offer your services or product in such a way as to help them achieve their goals.

  • Product Manager 
Seattle, Washington 
Adam Hanig
    Posted by Adam Hanig, Seattle, Washington | May 29, 2008

    Vicki-

    Great article. I particularly liked you mentioning that "It is about getting to know other professionals and creating a blend of connections you can depend on, happily refer to your clients and friends, and hopefully do business with."

    NOTE TO CONFUSED READERS:

    At the end of her article, Vicki gives four tips for ensuring that "your network keeps to a nice, small, manageable size, follow these 4 tips."

    In other words, she's suggesting that the four "tips" are a surefire way to NOT develop an extensive network.

  • Consensus building; Mediator;  Transnational litigation and cross-cultural settlement consultant 
San Francisco, California 
Melanie Nathan
    Posted by Melanie Nathan, San Francisco, California | May 29, 2008

    Hi, I also read the four tips in bewilderment because "keeping one's network small and manageable" can be construed by some as a positive and not negative endeavor; hence the confusion.

  • Art Director, brand, print and website designer, textile design,   
Portland, Oregon 
Angie  Burr
    Posted by Angie Burr, Portland, Oregon | May 29, 2008

    HA! thanks Adam. That makes sense.

  • Certified Facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie, Teacher and Performer of Improv 
Santa Cruz, California 
Carol Skolnick
    Posted by Carol Skolnick, Santa Cruz, California | May 29, 2008

    It could be that the wider our net, the better the networking. You've challenged me to look for the "common denominators." No connection is a waste of time. Thanks, Vicki!

  • Purveyor of fun and pleasure 
Portland, Oregon 
Vicki Kriner
    Posted by Vicki Kriner, Portland, Oregon | May 29, 2008

    Wow, thanks for all these great comments! I had no idea this would strike such a chord.

    To those folks who asked about the "tips", these are what NOT to do if you want to succeed in creating a network. I wrote that as a bit of a tongue in cheek example of a few other Networking No-No's I have been exposed to (some quite recently).

    My overall point is this; regardless of whether you can immediately do business with someone or not, the whole point of networking is to create a relationship.

    You NEVER know what that relationship will yield. It may not convert to dollars in your pocket, but you will never be harmed in business by having too many relationships - and that means more than just a Rolodex full of cards.

    You may only have a core group that you refer from, but why not have options? Just because you know one person with a particular expertise that you refer, they may NOT be a fit for all of your contacts - personality enters the equation. It pays to have an additional trusted resource.

    If you can successfully refer your client to someone they are happy with (whether it generates immediate profit for you or not), it can make you their hero!

    If nothing else, there may come a time when you have a question for someone outside your core group - and having a trusted professional who will let you pick their brain has an immeasurable value in itself.

    To sum up this manifesto, I think networking is about what I can do for YOU first, as well as how we can help each other. And if you have read this far, I commend and thank you!

  • Consensus building; Mediator;  Transnational litigation and cross-cultural settlement consultant 
San Francisco, California 
Melanie Nathan
    Posted by Melanie Nathan, San Francisco, California | May 29, 2008

    In mediator/consensus builder mode, with much respect and gratitude, it may be helpful for the sake of completion to add to this dialogue:- 1. Perhaps Viki can acknowledge that the "tongue in cheek" 4 tips are misleading because of the ambiguity of "manageable networking." If Viki amended her article to exclude the word "manageable" then the entire sense of the 4 tips would be different. This is a serious mis-communication which can be resolved with a minor correction, and 2. Those commentators who jumped on Viki as having given advice contrary to he thesis, ought to ask questions before criticizing so vehemently. Clearly it seemed incongruent, but the lesson to all is to first consider the possibility of miscommunication rather than jump to the wrong conclusions.

    This is not intended as new line for discourse. Its intended to complete the picture! best, melanie.

  • Consensus building; Mediator;  Transnational litigation and cross-cultural settlement consultant 
San Francisco, California 
Melanie Nathan
    Posted by Melanie Nathan, San Francisco, California | May 29, 2008

    PS. Clarification:- The word manageable may feel positive and not negative to some who are overwhelmed by porr organizational methods of networking.

  • Purveyor of fun and pleasure 
Portland, Oregon 
Vicki Kriner
    Posted by Vicki Kriner, Portland, Oregon | May 29, 2008

    Melanie, thank you for your input. THIS is what networking is about - collaboration!

    I made a few changes to avoid any further confusion.

    To keep congruent with the title and thesis, I have maintained the what NOT to do tips at the end.

    I stand by them - do these things and your network will not grow! :D

    Thanks again to all of you who have taken the time to read and comment. VK

  • Photo Restoration & Retouch 
Redmond, Washington 
Joe Townsend
    Posted by Joe Townsend, Redmond, Washington | Jun 01, 2008

    Great. Well said, nicely written. Enjoyed your approach. I understood your title and the tips. You're right, of course.

    Joe Townsend

  • QB Consultant, Number Manager, Writer 
Vancouver, Washington 
Monique Colver
    Posted by Monique Colver, Vancouver, Washington | Jun 12, 2009

    Excellent points -- I understand this exactly.

    Monique

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