Bennis Inc. | 9 Warning Signs That Networking Is Wasting Your Time
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9 Warning Signs That Networking Is Wasting Your Time

9 Warning Signs That Networking Is Wasting Your TimeAnyone that has gone to enough networking meeting, mixers, socials or luncheons can relate to this topic. There are simply times when you know you are talking to someone who will never be qualified to refer business to you or who won’t even remember your name and what you do more than 5 minutes after you part ways.

But in these same instances, there will be business contacts that will forever change your outlook (and income) with a few simple introductions. So how do you distinguish between the two? Here are 9 warning signs that networking with these particular contacts is simply a waste of time.

  1. They give you their business card before you give them your name

I appreciate people who cut straight to the chase, but being greeted with someone’s business card before I’ve even had a chance to tell them my name is just plain annoying. Before you get to know me or I get to know you, there is no way I trust you and like you enough to buy whatever it is your selling. In fact, I’m quite certain I’ll grab that business card as a ticket out of that conversation and drop it in the trash on the way out. Be wary of these type of networkers as they clearly only have their own interests in mind.

  1. You describe your job and their only response is “Oh.”

Once you tell someone what it is you do for a living, it’s a bad sign if they have absolutely no further response than “Oh.” They don’t have any questions, comments or stories related to this topic? This is a sure indicator that these people are either not into you at all (and unlikely to keep you in mind for future business) or they are terrible conversationalists – neither of which you want to spend any more time around than you absolutely have to. Get out now!

  1. You describe your job and they reference a negative industry stereotype

If someone does give you more of a response to your job description than “Oh,” you still don’t want it to be a negative connotation they have about the work you do (I heard you guys are sleazier than a used car salesmen. Or I bet you’re charging me for this conversation right now, huh?) It’s a hard enough battle to make someone like you from a blank slate, combating a pre-existing stereotype is a whole other war – and one that you are not likely to win in the short amount of time that networking mixers afford.

  1. You describe your job and they totally don’t understand what you do

Another big, red flag is if you’ve given an adequate and elementary description of your job and they still can’t grasp what it is you do for a living. A blank stare, confused face or redundant questions are a sure sign they have no clue as to the value you provide. If you’re struggling to convey this concept to them, you can be certain they won’t be able to accurately tell anyone else what it is you do and hot leads are never going to happen. Cut your losses, fake an important phone call and walk away.

  1. They never even ask you what you do

The last several warning signs were nice enough to assume your networking contact will even bother to ask you what it is you do. Sometimes you don’t get this common courtesy! If they’re rambling on, basking in the attention of explaining their “fulfilling” career of selling erasers, don’t waste any more time waiting around for the obligatory question of, “So what do you do for a living?” It’s likely not coming, nor would they pay attention long enough to understand.

  1. They have a hard time describing what it is they do

If you do end up listening to the ramblings of what they do for a living and realize that you could do a better job explaining to them what their core responsibilities should be, this is a warning sign that they likely won’t be in their position for too much longer. Don’t waste your time…or a business card. Politely scoot away for a drink of water and some better conversation.

  1. They quote you for their services within the first 10 minutes

Whether it’s a networking mixer or a one-on-one meeting, unless you directly ask someone for a proposal for their services, you’re completely correct in feeling shocked when they openly give you a quote for something they deem you “must have done now.” People like to buy, they don’t like to be sold. If this person hasn’t yet grasped this concept – or social awareness – they are not likely to be making too many other quality contacts that could benefit you either.

  1. They are constantly looking around for other people to talk to

Have you ever been talking to someone that you feel is always looking over their shoulder at the people passing by or checking their watch? Yeah, they’re not fully engaged in your conversation. Don’t take it personally; these people may truly think they are being discrete. But do take note and mark their business card diligently with a “never talk to again” or NTA label. Only invest your time in people who are willing to invest some of theirs in you.

  1. They forget or mispronounce your name before the conversation ends

And finally, if by the end of your 1 minute and 30 second conversation they have already forgotten your name, it’s not looking hopeful that they’ll remember to contact you or pass along your information to anyone else who could use your services. I would give an “A” for effort, but even being called “Susan” instead of “Stephanie” is something I simply cannot reward. Come on people! You have a business card in your hands and I’m likely wearing a huge “Hello My Name is…” name tag – double check your resources and call me by the right name!

What are some of the worst experiences you’ve had in networking meetings? Share your stories by commenting below!

Stephanie Shirley

stephanie@bennisinc.com