Now imagine there are some “Me! Me! Me!” networkers among the people in attendance: people who ricochet in and out of small-group conversations, talking about nothing but themselves and what they do—in fact, doing pretty much all the talking. Those people approach everyone in exactly the same way, regardless of the other person’s need or background. Finally, those people throw business cards around touting what they want everyone to buy from them.
Do those “Me! Me! Me!” networkers sound like grotesque caricatures? Well, in brick-and-mortar networking, the only environment where I have come across anything close to that was car sales. The sales trainer in my group of trainees suggested you get yourself known in the neighborhood by placing business-card dispensers at every imaginable local business from the dry cleaner’s to the hairdresser’s to the dentist’s.
I never acted on that “sage advice” (I wouldn’t have, even if I had lasted any longer than three months in that line of work), and I can’t think of too many car salespeople who do. They, too, generally have more common sense than that.
How certain online “networking” goes really bad
Content management in the digital sphere is fascinating, even wondrous. Today content can be posted and sent out to practically unlimited numbers of recipients, at speeds and volumes that would have been unheard of just a generation ago.
And some people take that as license to hound down unsuspecting targets anywhere and everywhere. I don’t do a lot besides LinkedIn and Twitter in the social-media arena, but I have enough presence to find myself antagonized by obnoxious self-promotion every so often.
There is certainly nothing wrong with the kind of networking that gets people to think of you when they have a need for your product or service. What makes networking good is when it also includes offering something for free. (I wrote about that in detail in another blog post.)
Where things become obnoxious is when they approach you by making a faux personal “connection” (such as a generic compliment on your website or LinkedIn profile), and when you do connect with them, they message you on LinkedIn to pitch their product or service, and flood you with “newsletters” and “special promotions” you never signed up for.
And that’s where these online networkers are just like the caricature “Me! Me! Me!” brick-and-mortar networkers I made up above: all talk, no listen. As for online networking, much of it may not happen in the form of live, real-time conversations, but there certainly remains the need to “listen.” And if they don’t get that, then it’s “unsubscribe” and “unfollow”!