Too many times, people rush in for the sale, and they end up not only losing the sale but losing the connection as well.
Here’s a recent email that I received:
“For the 2nd time in a month, I have received a call from someone who
attended a networking luncheon who called to “sell their wares”. I never
asked them to contact me. I know I should just let them know that this is
not a welcome call but I am uncomfortable doing so since I don’t want to
“burn a bridge” for my own potential business.”
This person continued by asking me if I had any suggestions on how to deal with this uncomfortable situation.
Before I could answer, I needed clarification, so I wrote back,
“Is it the same person who is contacting you twice in 1 month … or is it 2 different people?”
Turns out, it was 2 different people from 2 different events.
So here was my reply.
“As you’ve mentioned in your email, you want to keep the lines
open in case there is a potential need for this person to use your
services. If that is truly the case and this person is someone that
you would want to do business with eventually, you could simply
let them know that you make it a policy to get to know people as
people before you show an interest in their products for yourself
or before you consider them for outbound referrals.
You can keep it light and professional. If they don’t want to take
time to build a relationship, then you just have to let them
go … in a kind way. As my good friend Barbara Jack always says,
Bless them and release them.”
But really, folks, I get this question at least once a week. This tells me that there are a lot of networkers out there behaving badly. And, in some cases, they are behaving this way because they don’t know better. Is some cases, they do know better … but they choose to go for the sale over building a relationship first anway.
Either way, please stop. You are burning your bridges BEFORE you’ve even begun to build them.
People do not like being sold to. Period. And if you are pushing for a sale just because you have someone’s card in your hand you are missing the point of networking.
The point of networking is to build mutually beneficial relationships with people. Key words in that sentence are MUTUALLY beneficial. If your need to make a sale is that prevalent, please just pick up the yellow pages and start making cold calls. At least that way, you won’t be creating bad word of mouth marketing for yourself.
And if you don’t believe that pushing your sales agenda too soon on your network can create bad karma for you, think about this. People talk. The person who wrote the email to me above … she has probably already warned at least 5 of her friends about you. So the very next time that you are at a networking event and people hesitate or refuse to give you their business card … just know that the word about you is out on the street. And, it’s not good.