So, you’re going to a Networking Event. Are you a Dealer, Seller, Collector or Connector?

by Guest Contributor on March 16, 2012 · 2 comments

So, you’re going to a Networking Event. Brilliant – you’ve just increased your career and business opportunities. Or have you?

Meeting new people and reconnecting with previous contacts isn’t enough to win you new business, get you referrals and to increase your career opportunities.

Contacts are great but it’s the relationships you create that really matter.

Of course you will meet new people but the way you meet them and the first impressions they receive when you do will directly influence the relationships you build in the weeks, months and years that follow.

Over my long career as a business networker I’ve recognised 4 regular players in the Networking Game. I’ve also played all 4 roles and noticed a massive difference in my effectiveness depending upon which of the roles I’ve chosen at a given event.

The 4 players are Dealers, Sellers, Collectors and Connectors and their personal networking effectiveness varies immensely.

I started out as a Dealer and my mission was to get my Business Cards into the hands of everyone I met. As I said hello I would hand over a Business Card just to make sure that they got my contact details right from the start. I always took a big stack of cards with me and my aim was to leave the meeting having given them all away. I would effectively Deal them to everyone I met.

After attending quite a few meetings I realised that some of the other people were using a different strategy. They were looking for the sale and to close business on the day. They were Sellers so I tried that approach as well. In addition to handing my cards over as I said hello, I would focus my conversation on finding out what they do, what they buy, what services they need and ‘I can quote you for that business today’. It didn’t work because I eventually realised that I never actually achieved a sale because the people I was meeting didn’t actually want to buy anything on the day.

I also noticed the people who were leaving networking meetings with big piles of cards because they would literally get a card off everyone they met. These were the Collectors and they built up massive piles of contacts. I thought that was a great idea so I tried that as well. I literally ‘Collected’ thousands of cards and kept them in plastic business card boxes on a shelf in my office. The trouble was that I was so busy collecting business cards that I never had time to actually do anything with them. I didn’t enter them into a database. I didn’t follow up the contacts I made but of course they were contacts so they were in my network. I knew that I had met someone in a particular type of business but then couldn’t remember who they were or what company they were from but of course they were in my network.

Eventually, I noticed certain people who just seemed to know lots of people at the meeting and they were like magnets attracting new people into conversation. I noticed that they seemed to talk less and listen more but they also did a strange thing in that.

About  Tony Altham

During 20 years running his own businesses Tony has watched, listened to, worked with and learned from some fantastic social and business communicators and seen exactly what makes them highly effective networkers.   

Tony now applies these ‘Secrets of Successful Networking’ daily, in his business and personal life, in building long term, positive relationships and a massive contact network. 

Tony is MD of Staffordshire based promotional merchandise company AdGiftsOnline Limited and is also a speaker, mentor and coach, teaching business owners and their staff how to maximise their networking and referral business effectiveness through his SOS Networking events and Seminars.

 He has been a BNI member for 8 years.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rangita Shah March 18, 2012 at 17:13

Thank you. I found you blog very useful. Although I follow the strategy of listening more than talking, I will be more concious of it next time I attend a networking meeting.


Charlie Lawson March 19, 2012 at 10:19

Tony – I like it, a great take on networking. Thanks for contributing!


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