There has been a lot of buzz and even more books published lately regarding how we should conduct ourselves when attending networking events. We’ve been told to relax, lean back, connect, to give of ourselves and to take a much more passive approach to our networking strategies. I totally get that… there’s nothing worse than the hard sell! But have we over corrected? I attended The Victoria Marketing Meetup Group last night. A monthly event I LOVE going to. The members are smart, saavy and techno brilliant not to mention fun to be with. We began discussing our businesses and very quickly the conversation turned to describing what we most needed – clients and new business!! We talked about how we were experiencing a kind of passive agressive behaviour to networking, the experience of not really knowing what people wanted out of their attendance. Happy hour? Friends? We all checked ourselves…. weren’t we at a business mixer? Yep. And we’d been following the rules, we’d been doing our due diligence in getting to know people, contributing and enjoying the relationships we were making. There was depth of relationship, integrity and genuine interest in each other’s businesses and lives. But… something was missing – we weren’t sure quite how to do business with these other attendees, and even worse… we had the impression they weren’t in need of or looking for clients? Really? Really? Or… were they posturing? More about that in a minute.
Our meetup group had been meeting for a while when one of our members, Kevin Clark of DevEdge (a guy that is great at his job AND provides outstanding customer service, someone you can absolutely recommend people to) posted on his LinkedIn status… “Referrals are appreciated. I’d love to connect with mid-sized businesses looking to increase client acquisition (and thus business revenue).” I jumped up from my office chair and yelled – FINALLY! I know what type of customer Kevin is looking for right now. Kevin was open for business and straight about it. I’ve since referred friends, family and clients to Kevin.
I know, I know… there are lead generating groups we can attend. But we agreed that we would love to create an experience where we could have both connection AND new business. This seemed more in line with the truth of who we were in business – committed to connecting, giving of others AND THRIVING in business. No posturing for us, we all want new clients. Posturing by my definition is giving the perception of having so much work you can’t possibly take another client when you’re actually dying on the vine. What stands in the way is our inability, unwillingness or fear of being vulnerable.
I’m currently reading Brene Brown’s recent book Daring Greatly. She shares the words from Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem”, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Aha moment. People buy people not products. And… I’m more inclined to do business with real people, not pictures of perfection. Vulernability allows us to be real and truly connect. Giving is better than receiving so tell me how I can give to you and check yourself… have you been over-correcting and posturing?