I’d like to take some time to boil down the five networking types you’ll meet when you hit networking events
- The Clique/Groupie
People from the same firm/company cling together. They’ll hit the food station together. The bar together. And if the clique is women-only, they’ll go to the bathroom together.
I don’t get it. You already work together eight hours a day, five (or more) days a week. Now you’re hanging out together, narrowing your chances to meet new people/leads/connections
If you are the clique-r/groupie member: You may be “stuck” with your clique and feel too polite to excuse yourself. If you have client development as part of your role, you MUST branch out. Let’s say you’re with your clique. The clique is at a standing table or the food station and you’re stuck in the clique’s orbit. Try this: someone will walk by – strike up a small-talk conversation with that someone. The goal here is to break up the gravitational pull of the clique.
2. The Card Dealer
Ever been to a casino and watched the tables? The croupier (er, the card dealer, trying to show off some, uh, French?) deals out cards.
If you haven’t been to a casino, you can also happen in real life! At a networking event with some big-shot wannabe dishing out cards to every one he meets.
(Sidebar: some cultures, i.e. Chinese business culture, it is automatic for Chinese business folk to give you their card after saying hello. Actually, I’m mid-way through “hello” when I get a card gracefully presented to me with two hands with my Chinese counterpart).
I have a view that carrying cards is a mythical need (future post!). Rather, the more important to-do is to build rapport and have a meaningful connection with new people you meet.
3. The Sidler
Sometimes you go to events and people you’ve met before (and didn’t get along with) are there. If they’re comfortable in networking, they are probably going to be a “Sidler”. That is, they sidle up to you, usually from the side or behind.
There’s this one young lady I see. Can’t effing stand her. Know-it-all, proud she’s so accomplished, yada yada yada. So when I am at events, she shoots me a dirty look to not join her when she’s in conversation.
Fine, whatever. As a Socially Upward, I can strike new conversations with new people.
So I do that. Suddenly, this young lady sidles up to me. Doesn’t really care to know what I’m up to. No, she sees me as a bridge to new contacts/connections. Ah, the Sidler!
People are opportunistic. People can be thick-skinned. One minute you’re chopped liver to them. Then when you are just a tiny bit useful, all the sudden they sidle up to you…only to ignore you and tap you as their bridge.
4. The Eye-Wanderer
Women hate it when their man has ‘wandering eyes’ on the street (e.g. checking out other ladies).
But both men and women can be eye-wanderers. I’m talking about meeting someone, and within about five minutes, their eyes are scanning the room hoping to meet a bigger fish.
I get it. I do it too (although i blame it on an un-diagnosed and probably non-existent ADHD). If you have wandering eye, FOCUS. Be present. Give the other person your attention. The interaction will probably last all of five minutes. You can spare them that. Once you feel you’ve exhausted your time, you can then excuse yourself. (“Well, Rory, it was nice meeting you. I really enjoyed talking about XYZ. I think we might have something here. Let’s exchange cards and grab a coffee.” Only do this if you want to meet Rory for follow-up, of course!)
5. The Interviewer
I always believe in the ‘two ears, one mouth’ principle – i.e. you have two ears and one mouth, so listen twice more than you speak. To ensure I can connect with people, I listen to them. Then I also ask questions to have people open up. (Sidebar: Unless the other person is a rambler…then you have permission to eye-wander and not ask any questions.)
Some people take question-asking to an extreme. So instead of ‘soft’ questioning to open up your new friend, the Interviewer just goes on rapid-fire questions. Typically their questions SUCK too. Like yes/no questions as opposed to deeper questions. The interviewers also suck because it feels like they are sucking information out of you to judge your value.
One time, I met a senior lawyer. I got a rapid set of questions. Question 1. Question 2. Question 3. Hell, mid-way in my answer to Question 3, this lawyer was on to Question 4. I could tell she assessed I was of no use to her. (Something about her leaving me on the spot while I answered Question 4).
“Hey, don’t you want to know the end of Question 4’s answer…” Oh, right. I never felt so used by a woman!
So there you have the Five networking characters you’ll see or meet at networking events. Maybe there are others – let me know in the comments section below!