Are you a Networking Animal?
One of the things I find most interesting about this is understanding the different types of people who attend these, and how they behave in this environment. You can see that some are themselves, and feel very comfortable ‘selling’ themselves. Others, who would usually be very capable, confident individuals, suddenly become a different person. Not able to hold look people in the eye, babbling through their 40 seconds, and generally unable to form a coherent sentence!
Why do we do this? What is it about a room full of others exactly like us, that can change us so much?
I have come across a lot of people and I have noticed that people tend to fall into one of 6 categories:
The wolf is there for one thing and one thing only. Food. They are lone creatures, do not understand the value of relationships, and come across as aggressive, and at the first sign of opportunity they have pounced on you! Unfortunately they don’t seem to understand that networking meetings are not Wolf territory! They don’t work well in settings which are open (multiple businesses in the same industry). When you get 2 wolves in the same room you can guarantee a fight!
Predictably, these are the people who find it hard to come out of their shell at these events. No matter how confident they are in other situations, networking events make them want to hide in the corner, check their phone, and generally not get out there and network! Very often you will see them emerge after a few weeks, getting more and more confident, and evolving into a more ape-like creature (see below) as they watch what works and what doesn’t.
Protective till the end, the Lioness will not have a bad word said about ‘her’ industry / networking group / products etc. She does not understand that networking groups can provide a great arena for some healthy debates!
The Mother Hen
Just wants what is for the best of the group, which is great, but to the detriment of their own business. Too busy trying to get the group to be a success and forgets the basic principle of why they were there in the first place! Not only does networking cost quite a lot of money (depending on the groups you go to) but it can take a lot of time – travel, attending the meeting and following up. Make sure you know exactly why you are there, and measure your success. If it’s not working for your business, re-visit your marketing plan and strategy.
Ok so this one is a bit of a stretch, but the bears seem to disappear for long periods (to hibernate?) and then randomly turn back up when they feel like it! Not only are they risking missing that opportunity that they are networking for, but they are not showing a commitment to the group as a whole. Yes, networking is about lead generation and building your business but it is also about providing a support community of like-minded people that you can grow to trust and discuss critical business issues with. If you can’t be bothered to turn up half the time, are you doing your fellow networkers a disservice?
These know the value of relationships and reciprocity. Give and you will receive is the motto here and it works! Building a strong network and consistently managing it makes them efficient networkers, and will ensure people talk (positively) about them long after the meeting ends. You can have many apes in the room together and they will look for the collaboration rather than the competitive situation first.
I know that in my networking I aspire to be as ‘ape-like’ as possible, but I am sure there are many more different types not mentioned here – please comment below to let me know what creatures you have met on your networking journey!