If you are in business, especially in a sole proprietor situation, then you more than likely have attend a Business Networking Event. If you haven’t, maybe this will help you understand what you are bound to witness when you do attend one.
There is one thing for certain, being in business for yourself is not easy. The large probably a sole business person has to deal with is being found or marketing one’s self. Many, if not all, individuals business people will eventually find themselves being invited to, or drawn into, attending a business networking event.
For someone concerned with maintaining a professional image, attending what has been deemed a business function at the locale diner might be a challenge. However, it is a learning experience every small business person should endure so as to know if attending one of these gatherings really is an effective way to market one’s business…or Not.
Hopefully the following breakdown of the type of person you are bound to see at these functions will help you to understand them and how to deal with them..if they can be dealt with. The thing to remember is, you are on the bottom run of the ladder to success and many people, as you find out, get stuck there.
So let’s take a look at a few of the characters you will see at many of the local business networking functions.
Canned 60 Second Elevator Speeches Are So 1990’s
The quality and effectiveness of a business networking group starts with the person or persons who organize them. Unfortunately, many of them are stuck in the 90’s way of business networking. What this means is if have attended a large number of business networking function over the years there is a 99% chance you have been exposed to the dreaded “60 Second Elevator Pitch”. If not, then consider yourself a very lucky person.
To the bewilderment of many, there are still people who train business people on how to develop and deliver a short form of communication that tell people what you do professionally. There has been some debate over the years on if they are really worth the effort or energy. On the most part these short form of business taglines and keywords become a jumbled mess if it is not delivered effectively which makes the person delivering the message appear to not know what they are doing. Not a GREAT first impression. So, why are the organizers forcing this type of introduction on attendees.
Fortunately, there are many other ways of telling people what you do professionally than standing up in front of a group of people..usually in a loud public venue…to tell them in 60 seconds what is already on your business card.
Most people are compete failures at delivering their promotional message. However, there are some who attempt to make this one minute speech a vaudeville act . Unfortunately, both come off to the audience as looking very strange. Would you want to do business with someone who comes across as ‘strange’? I didn’t think so.
Problem: Since there is an 85% chance the people in the room are not interested in hearing a bad or dramatic reading of a self promotional script this method of communication in today’s business world is hurting more people than they are helping. The groups who feel the 60 second elevator speech is a viable part of business networking may need to take a very long look at themselves since their survival in today’s business world depends on them changing.
Unfortunately, since it is a 99% probability these people who prefer these type of ritual will never see this blog, they will never know how their behavior and image is also killing Business Networking as a whole.
Solution: Let the networking run it’s natural course. Produce the event in a private room where the noise level is minimal. Give each attendee a handout that lists each person in the room and what they do. Encourage people meeting each other. The organizers should organize the event so they are clear to interact with each person in the room. The one-on-one method of telling someone what they do is much more productive.
Nothing Anyone Really Needs
Another group of people you will see roaming the business networking circuit obviously makes you ask… Where do these people come from? There are a number of categories of the people who give business networking a bad name.
Overall, they are the business people who are overly passionate about products, services and business models of questionable value. Their product or services are usually limited to a very small consumer base. They feed off the offline business networking groups as their ONLY form of marketing. Since what they do for business requires a hard sale they usually are very boisterous .
Business Networking Misfits
Unfortunately, these misguided people are running off the quality business people who have services and products other businesses and consumers really need or want.
For your benefit here are
4 of Business Networking Groups’ Misfits
1. The Over-the-Hill Gang
The OTH Gang hits real close to home and is the group I will fight everyday to not be apart. This group of business people are generally the over 60 group who refuse to face the fact their form of prehistoric marketing is dying. They see no benefit in learning newer or up-to-date marketing techniques.
You will hear them use phrases and terms only relevant when the Iron Horse was the fastest mode of transportation.
Many will attempt to dress younger and continue their futile fight to keep the same hair color they had in their high school senior class photo.
Nearly all have been sales people for a very, very, very long time and worked for companies that paid very, very, very large commissions.
They have traveled everywhere as part of the old school door to door techniques prevalent to pre-1990 era business.
It also would be a safe bet to not get into any drinking games with any of the OTHG since they are veterans of the three martini lunches and most can drink until dawn.
Fortunately, the OTHG is the easiest of the dinosaur business networker group to change. It usually takes one of their own who comes from an operations background to explain where they need to change and who can make it sound like it was their idea to change, not the fact they needed to change.
Still, a few of the OTHG will move off to one of the other categories coming up just to keep from having to deal with change.
2. Zig Ziglar Zombies
One of the more obnoxious groups of business networkers are more commonly known as the ZZZ’s (Zig Ziglar Zombies..may he rest in peace).
They can talk faster than a caffeinated drill Sargent and are just about as influential.
They will pitch positiveness as their approach to helping everyone succeed when in fact their appearance is not that positive.
They usually offer a mystery service that is nothing more than making you become more like them. I have seen a few young people fall for that style of business networking who eventually fail so miserably they end up at the drive thru at the Jack-n-Box to pay for the experience.
The ZZZ’s are totally oblivious to how the people they are talking to are seeing them as complete buffoons.
They have taken the teaches of Mr Ziglar to a fanatic level for which I am sure Zig would not support.
There seems to be an army of the ZZZ’s hitting the business networking group events. Approaching these individuals to get them to drop the character they created is very near impossible.
They are like showman and as long as they feel the stage curtain is open they are on point with all the fake flashing of whitened teeth and formal presentation of their $3 a piece business cards.
Changing a ZZZ to using more effective methods of marketing usually is only done covertly through the use of Video Marketing since most of them love to be in front of a camera.
Once they see themselves on YouTube it sometimes is easy to get them to see how they are coming across to others. Then again, they usually don’t see the outdatedness of their image.
Even after they have been consulted there is no guarantee they will change since they generally will not break the fake character they feel they have to present to everyone.
It appears the ZZZ’s will be around a little longer due to their very large alumni who keep each other in business. Modern marketing will sail pass them leaving them to go down with the morning newspaper.
3. Hell Fire Brimstone
It still is a fundamental rule of business and a proven fact the two things that will kill a business person’s image is to say anything, or take issue with anything, concerning a political or religious view point.
There are many who do not take heed to this fundamental rule and dive head first into producing a negative image in their effort to change the world.
Most of the time these evangelist, who can crack a brick wall with their voice from fifty feet, usually are pitching a product or service that has such a small profit margin it takes thousands of people buying it to make a dollar.
This makes them push for an immediate sale and will forgo having any meaningful conversation.
Getting one of the hell fire politicians to change to using calmer way of delivering their core message sometimes back fires since they usually fall back to their support groups who they usually bring along with them. It is not until they also fail in business they find the need to change and then will withdraw into some home based business to shield themselves from the embarrassment their negative image created.
4. Sing Songers
Let’s not forget the people who have rehearsed their sales pitch so well you are certain their performance will win an Emmy-Oscar-Tony-Grammy all in one for the great song and dance they have learned to delivery.
Many of these people feel actually singing their pitch is appropriate business networking behavior.
As it is pleasing to hear someone use comedy in their pitch to gather attention to what they do, it sometimes comes across as gimmicky when their pitch is sung.
The Sing-Songer are usually the most sensitive since they are overly conscious to how coming off looking silly can kill any professional image.
Most of the time, having coffee and having a one-on-one with the person will provide the opportunity for someone to get across the need for them to change their approach to telling people what they do for a living.
If you have not seen these people when you attend a business networking function you probably are attending events that are very well thought out affairs..and you should consider yourself very fortunate since there are not very many of these business gatherings.
If you have seen them I am sure you ask yourself…‘what the hell is this person doing?’
Well, what they are doing is killing Business Networking.
Their lame attempts to quote every motivational speaker and marketing guru in their 60 second elevator speech turns more people off than on to whatever they do professionally.
Their evangelistic style of talking really loud and using politicians approach to humor will generally result in a few people hitting the door to the parking lot.
Then, of course, their attempts to convince everyone they are the ONLY true expert in the room..or world..generally closes the deal on over 80% of the people in the room will not attend another business networking event..EVER.
Change Comes Through Effective Leadership
Most of the people who are killing business networking generally refuse to face the fact business marketing has changed.
They will completely ignore any advice given that the ‘old used-car salesperson persona’ is not going to work in todays’ more social networking atmosphere.
Even after many of them are run off the internet for Spamming they still maintain the adage of..if it worked once, it will work again.
The Solution is Online
The solution to keeping business networking going falls squarely on the leadership of the group.
It is a tough job managing people and is the part of leading a business networking group that many of the organizers refuse to do. However, if control is not placed on the type of person who is allowed to attend the group function it is a sure bet that those who do encounter these misfits of the business world will find somewhere else to go.
Face-to-Face Business Networking is needed. Heavy sales tactics are not.
Effective business networking today is clearly supported by it’s online social networking efforts. Business people are meeting online and eventually will look for ways to meet offline. The Business Networking Groups that capture the interest of the business people’s online networking will be the networking groups that succeed into the future.
In today’s economy there is a REAL need for business networking events. Hope more will be organized that will meet today’s interest.
Let me know how I can Help!