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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

CONNECTING IS NOT ENOUGH: The Week of Networking Nightmares

Andy Lopata
Connecting Is Not Enough with Andy Lopata

In his column this month, Andy Lopata shares how a friend faced a week of networking nightmares that could have turned a lot of people away from networking for good.

Andy shares how the people his friend met:

- Dominated events while drunk

- Interrupted conversations ignoring one of the parties

- Treated each new person as a new email address for their database

- Failed to make any effort to engage or follow up.

Unfortunately there are good reasons why some people vow they will never network again. Despite all the positives to be enjoyed from a strong networking strategy, there are still people whose approach to networking leaves just a little to be desired. And if you’re unfortunate enough to bump into several of those people in the same week, it would be understandable if you never attended a networking event again!

That happened to a close friend of mine recently. Over the course of two events in the same week she met four people who between them committed some of the biggest networking faux pas possible.

The first event was an intimate talk, followed by a question and answer session with about twenty people present. The talk was interesting and the q & a session started well, until one women, having enjoyed plenty of the free wine on offer, got involved.

Having asked her question, the woman was clearly not satisfied with the response and began to interrogate the speaker. The meeting’s host tried to get the meeting back on track and involve others who also had questions to ask and points to raise, but this one woman would not give up on her point.

While her husband sat looking on in horror, the protagonist resisted all attempts to open up the conversation and continued to harangue the speaker.

Later the same week my friend took a stand at a small exhibition within her industry. There she came across more of the common mistakes many people make when networking.

While in conversation with one of the attendees to the event, another exhibitor approached, looked over the shoulder of the person she was talking to and said “So tell me, what is it you do?”. She didn’t pay any attention to the fact that a conversation was already in place and, in fact, the event delegate was in mid flow. My friend politely explained that she would be happy to explain…later on!

Another exhibitor approached later on, introduced herself and handed over her card straight away. She then took my friend’s business card saying, “It’s always good to meet new people, I’ll put you on my database”. At no point during the exchange did she attempt to engage in conversation or find out any more, nor did she follow up with any contact after the event.

The biggest faux pas came not from one person but from a number of people over the two events. And it’s something I’ve written about on a number of occasions. My friend was shocked at how many people with whom she had conversations but who failed to follow up in any way, even in response to her emails to them.

As I’ve said before, it simply makes no sense to attend networking events to meet new people and not follow up with the people you have met. Why waste your time attending in the first place? Collecting business cards without investing the time afterwards in developing the relationships is lazy, short-sighted and ultimately futile.

Fortunately my friend is confident enough to not be put off by people who have drunk too much, remain unaware of others around them, interrupt conversations, try to collect names and don’t follow up. Facing all of the above in just two events could be a bit too much for some though!

Networking should be, and often is, a positive experience. People make the experience though and we all have a responsibility to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes and impact on our success and the enjoyment of others.


Are you struggling to put an effective networking or referral strategy into place? Do you want to know more about how to ensure you get the maximum possible return from your networking?

Visit Andy's brand new website at for more resources and ideas about how Andy can help you.

Andy's new book, on how to generate an effective referral strategy, will be published later this year.

“In this book Andy Lopata demonstrates how so many businesses ignore potentially their most powerful resource – their networks. Andy’s in-depth, practical advice will show you how to both build and profit from the relationships in your network.”

Ivan Misner, NY Times Bestselling author and Founder of BNI and Referral Institute

Andy's Audio program, "Networking in Ninety Minutes," will give you the tools you need to make the most from your networking. Available in CD or mp3 format here.

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