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My Flabber was Gasted! - How not to Network

 Oh dear I’m in danger of turning into “Mrs Grumpy”  I wrote a blog about email marketing  inspired by some unprofessional behaviour a couple of weeks ago.  Now I have been provoked into writing a blog about the worst example of Business Networking I think I have ever seen. So why was I so annoyed and how should I have acted?

Last week I was co-hosting a business networking event in Henley-on-Thames.  Before the meeting we had been asked by someone who had never attended the meeting before if they could speak for about 5 minutes.  As our 10 minute speaking slot was already booked we invited the enquirer to attend the meeting anyway and network.  About ¾ of the way through the meeting the lady turned up and spoke to my co-host.  Having said she had some leaflets she was told it would be best to hand them out. So she did – by interrupting conversations and thrusting leaflets into our hands.  It will come as no surprise to learn that her mission accomplished, she then left the meeting.  We were too speechless to say anything. What would you have done in the same situation?

Having written last week about how relationship building is the way forward in business I was extremely taken aback by the behaviour. So here are our tips for how to make networking work for you.

  1. Remember that everyone else in the room is there to do business and make contacts.
  2. Ask questions and listen to other people and don’t be over promotional.
  3. Have a clear idea of who is a good contact for you but don’t be rude or off hand with someone who you think doesn’t meet this criteria.
  4. Only offer your business card if asked or when the conversation leads naturally on to exchanging them.
  5. If you think the meeting isn’t for you, stay for a short time in order to be polite before you make your excuses and leave. 
  6. If you are rude and promotional you will find that networking doesn’t work for you.

I have to say that the behaviour I witnessed was exceptional. I’ve been a networker for a number of years but this type of behaviour is very unusual.  Most people I’ve met are pleasant, polite and very helpful.  I would love to hear your networking stories?



Lindsay McLoughlin
April 03,2013 04:43 pm
A great example of how not to network! I have not been networking long, but I have found it is as much about relationship-building (supported and enhanced through social media), as it is about taking a genuine interest in the other party. This is a great blog post. Thank you for sharing.

Lucy Long
April 01,2013 03:10 pm
Interesting blog and comments - unfortunately I've seen too many similar examples in my time and now I host my own events, had a look at your site, do you want to chat re specaking at one of my afternoon teas? Lucy 07990 600789

Margot Grantham
March 25,2013 11:17 am
Great post Gillian. The only thing bad networkers get is bad PR and no business! If this individual doesn't wake up to developing her brand in a more positive manner I doubt she will remain in business.

Claudia Crawley
March 25,2013 10:42 am
Well, we all know what happens with this type of networking. The chickens come home to roost. We can only assume that she's a networking newbie and has had the opportunity of speaking to someone in the know. Let's hope she does - pronto - before she does her business mega damage. Thanks for sharing, Gillian.

Gillian Chappell
March 13,2013 03:54 pm
Thank you all for your comments, it's always good to get some reaction to a blog. Lynne I do hope your 4N visitors weren't put off as networking can be such a worthwhile activity.

Lynne Pomeroy
March 13,2013 11:48 am
I saw a bad networking experience the other week at a 4N meeting in Cirencester, when three new ladies attending two of which had never been to a networking meeting before, they were very nervous but did manage to do their intro bit, but when it come to swapping business card for the three 10min one to ones they would pounced from all direction which was very overwhelming for them !!!!!!!!! It is always good to see new people at networking but that was a bit OTT poor things.

Penny Stephens
March 12,2013 08:15 pm
Crikey. A prime example of how not to do it! Great blog, Gill and some really useful advice.

Karen Livingtone
March 10,2013 08:45 pm
Great blog post Gillian - I can just picture everyone's faces when it happened. Some people just don't get or understand what networking is all about. I guess this lady has got mind share now but for all the wrong reasons!

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