While COVID has changed some of our behaviors, I suspect that many of those networking-related actions will return once in-person events resume in full-swing again; if they haven't already in your area.
Unfortunately, some of those behaviors are easy and very inexpensive to do, but have never been particularly effective in actually building relationships or a network.
My favorite ineffective interaction is the one where someone attends an event and then hand out business cards in a way that makes you think you’re in Vegas. You know who I mean – the ones who have a stack in their hands and pass them out as quickly as the Blackjack dealers shoot out their cards. There's at least one at every event.
There is usually very little to no conversation involved in this transaction. Your business card will likely be requested so that they can get a good count of how many people they “connected” with at the event. You'll end up in their database and probably not even remember who they are or where they got your information from. (Are we really calling that a "connection"?)
Are you tempted to do business with these individuals? Do they make you curious about what they do and how you can send business your way? Probably not because they've treated you like a number rather than a potential valuable resource.
I have to say that my favorite line came at a networking event I attended some time ago: I met someone I hadn’t spoken with before. I found out what the gentleman did and expressed some interest and knowledge about his business. He, in turn, wanted to know what I do for a living. When he found out I am promotional products professional, he proceeded to tell me all the ways his company is already marketing and how successful they are at it. After all this, he hands me his business card and requests mine. (I don’t offer mine unless I am requesting that they contact me about something specific.) As he’s handing me his card, he says to me (Are you ready, ‘cuz here comes the line): “Please don’t throw it away.”
WOW!!! (By the way, I didn't throw it out - I shredded it!)
If you’re handing out business cards in the hopes that the odds are in your favor that someone you give it to will remember you and want to do business with you then remember this: Yes, Vegas has winners, but there’s a reason the casinos can afford to keep all those glitzy lights on – it’s because gamblers usually don’t win!
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