Business Networking – stop pretending to be interested when you're not.
A lot of the articles which I write, and advice which I give, is about being interested in the other guy. I often quote Dale Carnegie’s advice that you should aim to be interested rather than interesting.
But there is a problem if that interest is false.
I talk to hundreds of people about business networking every month, and one of the subjects which comes up really often is that people have been approached by someone who feigns interest in them, when all they really want to do is sell.
Typically, the conversation goes something like this:
“Chat chat chat. Wow that sounds really interesting – I’d love to meet sometime so you can tell me more about what you do.”
And, of course, that meeting is agreed to. Particularly for anyone new to networking, someone being interest enough to want to meet up with you is REALLY flattering and exciting.
Except that when the meeting comes, the person isn’t actually interested at all, they now just want to sell their stuff. And you’ve got all excited, probably travelled, bought some coffee you didn’t really want to drink and, most importantly, invested your time on a false premise.
Being interested in other people takes real effort. That effort is rewarded, over time, with trust. That’s the point. Being genuinely interested and looking out for real opportunities for the other guy is a massive accelerator of the Meet-Like-Know-Trust process.
Pretending to be interested just to get an appointment with someone, and then once they are a captive audience, turning on the hard sell, on the other hand is pretty much guaranteed to lose any trust which may have built up.
The effort IS worthwhile. The opportunities do come to those who put in the effort into being the first to give value and those opportunities are then build on trust and respect. I wrote about how I put the effort into building a relationship which led to a massive opportunity for me last year in my article “Effort is currency“.
- Make yourself genuinely interested in the conversations you have at networking events.
- Actually read your connections’ LinkedIn profiles and the articles and blogs they write.
- Comment, share, like other peoples’ stuff when it’s appropriate and when you think it will add value for your crowd too.
Put the effort into being the person who people want to meet, don’t become the person who people want to avoid.