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The Stepford Wives Networking Club

“I have to go and get more cards” one woman said as she quickly left our conversation to pounce on someone she’d spotted. Another woman kept looking over my shoulder the entire time she was speaking to me. A third woman spewed out her own business schtick, thrust a card and brochure about her upcoming events into my hand, and left me standing there alone when she noticed another woman she knew.

I was turned off by all three of these women. Turned off big time! I began to feel that I was attending the Stepford Wives Networking Club. You know, that all of these women had read a secret “how to” book on networking and were like robots diligently following through. Eeeeek!

Every single one of the Stepford Wives Networkers forgot a glaring and basic fact—that she was talking to another person—and there are basic rules regarding manners and simple courtesy. When you run into someone in a grocery store and bring them up-to-date on what’s happening in your life, do you then immediately rush off to the produce section? No, of course that would be absurd. You ask them “how are you doing?” and inquire what’s happening in her life and with her kids, etc. Why then do people seem to check out when they’re networking? The same rules apply.

The other reason this behavior is a huge turn-off is because I’m female. For a female it’s always, always, always about relationships.

Building relationships take time. Nurturing your network of business and personal contacts takes care and energy, as well as intention. What is your intention when you attend a networking event? Do you want to make as many contacts as possible and collect business cards like the woman I first met that evening? Or do you want to set an intention of meeting six people and having fewer conversations?

Of course, it’s absolutely true that not everyone you meet will be a fit for your business but that doesn’t mean that they are of no use to you. Those “non-buyers” can be a referral sources. How? If you’ve invested time talking and listening—you learning about her business and in-kind she learning about yours—then non-buyers will be in a much better place to refer business your way.

I’ve just finished reading What She Buys and it was a great reminder about how to connect and sell to women.

What resources to you have that you might want to share?

What works for you when you’re networking? What doesn’t? What would make the process better?