We were both at a brilliant, very busy, networking event. The coffee was fabulous, the breakfast delicious and the opportunities to meet new people were superb.
Tarquin, clearly less used to networking, was going about it all wrong. He had been engaged in conversation with Mike for a long time, so politely, I joined in with their conversation. Networking etiquette - a smile and a “may I?” and off we go. Tarquin had a very long job title, which clearly delighted him but meant little to anyone else. Twice he announced his title and even then, I needed clarification as to what he actually did and who he was looking to meet. Next came his huge faux pas! Tarquin was only looking to meet one specific, very, very high-end contact. Those were his words! In that moment, glossy brochure in hand, Tarquin dismissed everyone else in the room as being of no consequence to him. Strangely, he did not seem to consider that anyone else could possibly lead him to his target client. As short-sighted goes, Tarquin was a beautiful example.
Mike the other gentleman, 55 and in a grey suit, was something to do with tax, which, by his own admission, is often a conversation killer. I asked Mike who he was looking to gain an introduction to and was pleased to lead him across to some key people. Paying forward, connecting people, instigating relationships, planting seeds, makes networking gatherings a powerful place to create those vital referrals we are all looking out for.
I looked back across the room and there was Tarquin, chest puffed out, on his own! Out on a limb!
Further along, Amy, 28 and Annabel, 25 were sitting. I know – sitting! If ever there was a rule book for how not to network, sitting down would be in the top 5! From a law firm and evidently a little nervous, the ladies had found vacant chairs and were owning them. However, being seated meant that anyone approaching them, regardless of height, would tower above them. It’s just not conducive to easy introductions, conversations and relationship building, is it? Amy and Annabel needed to stand up, park the nerves and mingle.
Stella, 52, an experienced networker was mingling beautifully, chatting, including others and introducing them easily. She was good right up to the point when she proffered a business card. I could see it was worn, with ink scribble over the name of whoever the card had previously belonged to. Oh so bad! Such a poor impression of her company! Why didn’t Stella’s boss splash the cash and show his respect for her and her contacts by keeping her supplied with pristine business cards?
Worse still was Boris. Boris was a well-known and most likeable gentleman of a certain age who thought everyone knew him and so did not need to bring any business cards. Pop that in the top five mistakes as well, a huge display of pompous arrogance, assuming people know who you are. He obviously had forgotten the benefits of new business relationships and potential referrals. Bad job, Boris! Schoolboy error? The line between confidence and arrogance has always been slim, but in business when networking, making new contacts and growing relationships, I suggest that a slice of humility be added to the mix. Humility, kindness and paying forward works. Funny how easy it is to scuttle opportunities for building profitable long- term business relationships!
I spotted Tarquin towards the end of the event, rushing to try and catch a word with his target client as they were rushing off to their next meeting. As it happens, I know the person well, as did others in the Networking Group. Any of us could have lead Tarquin, with his fancy job title and glossy brochure, straight to the person he was after, much earlier on. It’s like I said, if Tarquin were less “Up ‘issen”, he would be way more successful…….