Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Big Networking Mistakes: Cutting someone out of the conversation

It's really quite easy to fall into the trap I suppose. The nervousness of attending your first networking event. The pressure to produce some results from that event. And the excitement of realising that you are speaking to someone who might just buy your services.

I'm sure we've all done the wrong thing at some point or another.

Last night I was at an industry networking event, speaking to a meeting planner I had previously met a month before. We were approached by a man who asked if he could join us and we welcomed him into our conversation, bringing him up to date with what we were talking about.

While we were chatting, our companion looked at our badges and worked out that my colleague was someone who could possible book him for events. Pretty soon, I found myself in the position of a spectator to a conversation I had previously been a part of as he described in detail what he and his colleagues did and how they differed from their competition (neatly putting each competitor down in turn). As he finished he asked for the meeting planner's card and offered his to her.

He then said goodbye, before turning back to me, smiling and bidding farewell.

It was interesting to see what he did, although I am sure he was not aware of it. Seeing pound signs, he shifted his body position to exclude me from the conversation and directed his words, and eye contact, purely at the meeting planner. I could have walked away and he wouldn't have noticed.

He took no time to find out about me, what I do or who I know. He could easily have snubbed his biggest potential customer, or strongest potential Champion. And all because he saw a clear 'target' in front of him.

How did the meeting planner feel? The answer is very uncomfortable. We spoke about it after he walked away. She felt conscious of me being excluded from the conversation and she didn't like the shift from a relaxed conversation to being the subject of a sales pitch.

I relate this not to criticise the person who pitched last night, but to highlight how easy it is to make this mistake. I am sure we're all guilty of it at some time, changing gears when we meet someone who might book us.

We need to be aware of the dangers of doing this; the risk of excluding others from conversation and of making people feel uncomfortable about our approach.

It's an easy trap to fall into and one to stay very conscious of.

1 comment:

  1. This is something that has happened to me and it is annoying and very unprofessional of the 'interuppter', and totally switches you off from dealing with them!