Permission to Avoid ‘Networking Slug Behavior’

Has this ever happened to you? You’re at a networking event and meet someone who really turns you off quickly. A classic example of negative first impression. It’s even worse if you’re seated next to that person for the lunch.

This is an example of what I call NSB‘Networking Slug Behavior’. Amateurs can earn this unsavory designation for different reasons, but mostly because they don’t practice the simple art of ‘Permission Marketing’. Here are five Best Practices that you’ll see Networking Pros regularly doing to avoid that title. And you have permission to use them.

  • Pros don’t give their business card to you. They wait for you to ask for it or they ask if they can give you a card. This is a subtle but important difference. People, who shove cards in your face, especially when they begin the conversation, are ‘Networking Slugs’. Most of those cards wind up in the trashcan on your way out of the venue, anyone. And I’ve been known to put on my curmudgeon hat on occasion and comment ‘I don’t recall asking for your card’ just to mess with them.
  • Pros respect your time. They earn permission for a few minutes of your time at an event by not dominating the conversation or talking too long. They tell less and ask more. The conversation is more about you than them. When they do follow up with a call, they ask within the first few seconds, “is this a good time for a brief follow up chat on …?” They pause to allow you time to respond and honor your request. Slugs talk too much, too long, mostly about themselves and launch right into their monologue when they call.
  • Pros do it with class. If they plan to meet with you, they show up on time, if not early. They send a confirming email the day before, just to be sure. When they initiate the coffee chat, they always pick up the tab. If they ask for 10 minutes on the phone, they don’t talk for 30. Slugs show up late, expect you to buy and couldn’t be bothered to confirm plans.
  • Pros give before they ask. You’ve probably encountered two basic kinds of people at networking events – givers and takers. Pros believe that ‘givers gain’ and ‘what goes around comes around’. They’ll usually ask what they can do for you before they ask you for something. And when they do need to ask first, you know that they have earned the courtesy. Slugs are always thinking ‘WII-FM’ and ask first. And if you do help them, instead of a thank you, you usually get another request.
  • Pros don’t send you anything you didn’t ask for. When discussing a potential opportunity, they ask you what material or information you would like from them. They don’t automatically send you a resume, brochure, samples or other collaterals without asking first. They also ask when you want it and usually get it there earlier than promised. Slugs kill a lot of trees by sending you unwanted material that goes directly to your recycling bin.

So, if you want to network like the pros, you have permission to totally avoid ‘Networking Slug Behavior’. Just ask the right questions, master the simple art of ‘Permission Marketing’ and make it part of your personal brand.