How to Be the World’s Worst Networker: a tongue-in-cheek guide
Networking can be an extremely valuable business activity. You can meet new clients, generate potential leads and build business relationships. You might even enjoy the social aspect, especially if like me you run your own business and could do with getting out more.
However, networking needs to be done right, and I see plenty of people doing it wrong; indeed I’ve done it all wrong myself from time to time. I thought it would be fun to compile a list of actions the world’s worst networker might take; the inventory will also indirectly point us towards how to do it better.
Here then is a humorous starter catalogue of behaviours guaranteed to get you nil results. I’d love to hear your favorite additions.
1) Focus entirely on yourself and your needs — don’t be interested in anyone else
2) When you’re talking to someone, remind yourself that they’re probably a waste of time; keep looking over their shoulder at other people around you, who are probably much better prospects.
3) Do all the talking and don’t be interested in what the other person has to say. Drone on at them without checking whether they’re interested, or even listening.
4) Interrupt conversations by taking calls on your mobile/ cell phone.
5) Be miserable, grumpy, negative and pessimistic; complain to everyone you meet about the low calibre of the networking event and of those present.
6) Do a really hard sell of your services or products.
7) Shoot round the room, just pressing your business card into everyone’s hand and not even speaking to anyone (yes, some people actually still do that).
8) When you’re back to the office, don’t bother to follow up on any expressions of interest you may have received (the great majority of people are like this). Or follow up by relentlessly pursuing them by telephone, email or social media stalking.
More advanced worlds-worst strategies
9) Commit dress-code faux-pas — wear trainers and ripped jeans to a CEOs networking event, or (worse still) suit and tie to a tech-geek gathering.
10) Ask everyone how much they earn. If they make more than you, continue talking with them; if less, move on to someone else.
11) Bitch about your problems and disclose sensitive material about the company that employs you.
12) Get emotional about issues you’re having at home — openly break down and tell people you’re hanging on by a thread.
13) Give unsolicited feedback to people you’re connecting with — tell them where they’re going wrong; critique everything from their core values to their Facebook profile picture.
14) Start the conversation with a classic ‘lead brick’ self-introduction along the lines of: “Hi, I’m just resuming networking after [insert extended period of time], having been off with [insert medical name of scary contagious, orthopaedic or psychotic disease]”
15) Get drunk and try to pick people up.
16) Get barred from future iterations of the networking event.
I look forward to hearing your favorite world’s-worst-networking abominations.