Last Year I attended a large network of about 70 members. It was a new group, one that I had not attended before.
What an experience it was! As always, there were characters galore.
As I observed the scurrying about of some of these many different kinds of people, I began to wonder how stereotypical they were. Have you noticed any of these characters at your network meetings?
To be a Busy Betty you must have at least 100 business cards on you. Remember, you only have a few minutes to drop a card on every chair. Once the speeches start, the organizers will not allow you to continue running from chair to chair. So, to save time, do not make eye contact with anybody as you charge from table to table dropping your card and “networking”. Busy Betty, however, relies too much on her business cards and doesn’t do enough warm, personal interaction, the kind that makes your conversation partner want to call you after the network, rather than throw your card into the rubbish pile.
Barry the Bag-man
Like the bag-lady down the road who collects junk, Barry collects business cards. He will ask whoever is within ten meters for their business cards. Barry will strip the data off the cards, put them on a mailing list and for at least ten weeks after the network you will get an email selling herbal remedies. His emails will, of course, be most insistent and generally make outrageous claims about weight loss. He pushes away all possible contacts he might have made at this network with his irritating persistence – any e-mails from him (whether potentially valuable or not) have been pre-set to go straight to the receiver’s spam folder.
Newton the Newbie
Newton the Newbie has also joined the meeting. Newton does not yet have a business card. He is not sure if he wants to be a plumber or a housepainter. He thinks he can do both, but until then, he uses some cards from when he was a motor vehicle mechanic. He simply handwrites the new details. He’s not entirely sure what he wants out of this network, but he’ll be attending one on IT solutions later today too.
Serious Sarah has a cause and is determined to convert at least one person to this cause this morning. Usually it is something like Natural childbirth vs. Caesarean Birth. She will explain what happens while the Baby passes down the birth canal to anyone who will listen. The blood and gore are described in great detail as you consume the runny eggs on your plate, and you can’t wait for someone else to start speaking so you no longer have to listen to her.
Desperate Dennis is part of a sinking ship. He knows that his business is crashing and as he tries to share his idea, the pessimism he can’t help but feel shines through. You end up feeling so guilty that you give him some business just to ease your own conscience.
Mary the Marketer
Then there is Mary the Marketer. She understands that people are more likely to buy from someone they like and trust. She knows to listen carefully when others speak – she may even try a bit of banter with Serious Sarah because she can see how important Sarah finds this topic. She understands that she has to contribute value to the other party. Her opening question surprises you: “How can I help you achieve your dreams?” Mary realises she is unlikely to get business during a 90-minute breakfast, so she will follow up, happy to know that business is more likely to flow if she keeps contact.
So, who are you at the network meeting?
About the Author: Nico Kleynhans on Google+