If you’ve been around the networking block you’ll know there are some types of people you will always bump into, some of which are supremely annoying. Networking can be fantastic for your business growth but if you come across these characters and don’t know how to handle them, it could put you off networking for life.
It doesn’t have to be that way! Instead of playing ‘annoying networker bingo’ (although that could be fun) why not learn how to deal with them in a more productive way? Let’s meet the culprits…
1. The Narcissist
If they’re not running the networking meeting, they really want to be. They’re the one you can hear before you’ve got through the door and the one who loves to tell you about who they are, what they do, how great they are at it, who their customers are, how they’re up for an award (to add to the collection) and why they are just so successful. If the conversation ebbs away from them, they’ll find a way to bring the spotlight right back on themselves. They’ll ooze smarm all over you and not bother to even remember your name. That’s if they even ask you of course.
How to deal with The Narcissist:
Avoid them like the plague if you can. They are only interested in themselves and can be very tricky types to handle if you get too close to them. You know that saying… “don’t feed the trolls”? It applies to narcissists as well. Do not engage. Your best bet is to exit the conversation as quickly as possible and find someone else to talk to.
2. The Desperado
On first meeting, these types seem pretty down to earth and normal. Maybe a little self-deprecating but they ask lots of questions and they seem genuinely interested in you and your business.
Then you realise the reason they’re asking you so many questions about what you do, and specifically how you do it is because they’re desperately trying to gleam the secrets to your success and exactly how you get your clients so they can copy your techniques and be successful too.
How to deal with The Desperado:
It’s tempting to shut down on these people and keep your cards close to your chest as soon as you suss them out. Whilst you absolutely don’t want to give any real secrets to your success away, remember that they are not you. Even if they did employ your strategies, it’s unlikely they’ll be as effective and people will smell the desperation a mile off.
Even so, these types can be hard to shake. Stick to vague answers and exit the conversation as quickly as possible or just tell them you’re not really sure how you get customers… you just do the usual things.
3. The Multi-Level Marketer
They usually have a stand set up at the table near the back of the room, roller banner and all. As you walk past they’ll insist you try a shot of “aloe” despite it looking like a cup of frog spawn. Before you’ve even had a chance to say no thank you, they’ve begun the pitch. Whilst they proffer the benefits of working your own hours, uncapped earnings and a white Mercedes if you reach a certain level, you’re conjuring up a believable allergy to aloe vera and the whole backstory ready to convince them when you finally get a word in.
How to deal with The Multi-Level Marketer:
Clear and concise honesty. If you don’t nip it in the bud right there and then, you will be bombarded with phone calls or social networking messages, I promise you. Your best bet is to not even give them an inch. Politely tell them you are not interested. A “no thank you” is more than enough.
I don’t think it’s wise to explain why, and if they ask you why not, I strongly advise an “I said I’m not interested, thank you”.
But if you do find yourself caught in the net of the Multi-Level Marketer then give them a clear reason you’re not interested that they cannot argue against:
- You don’t like multi-level marketing
- You’re not interested in the product at all
- You do not want to run another business
As soon as is humanly possible, walk away and move on.
4. The One Everyone Wants To Talk To
Beware of the green-eyed monster rearing its ugly head when you encounter the networker who confidently tells the room what they do and who they can help and then a queue of people lining up to talk to them. This person has done nothing outwardly to annoy you, but their mere popularity has you sinking into a pit of despair that no one will ever be interested in your business.
How to deal with The One Everyone Wants To Talk To:
Befriend them. Wait until the rush is over (although you might be waiting a while) and go and have a chat with them with the intention of getting to know them on a more personal level. If you can find common ground, explore that with them. For example, perhaps they’re a website designer and you write copy for websites. Or, you both have kids of similar ages who are obsessed with LOL dolls. Whatever it is, strike up a conversation and be friendly. Next time you see them networking, say hello, see how they’re doing and maybe suggest a coffee in the future. Take your time and get to know them.
Why am I suggesting you befriend them?
- You could learn something from them that will help you promote your business
- Popularity rubs off and by association, you may be seen as more interesting to other networkers
- You could find a way of supporting each other’s businesses
- It will help you diffuse the jealousy if you see the person behind the popularity
- I think this is the most important reason: you might make a really good friend
5. The Shy One
You may barely notice this type of networker until you’re standing at the coffee bar and realise this person is not going to even say hello. You know it’s going to get really awkward really quickly and you’ve a choice of either:
a) Politely pretending you’re really busy putting sugar in your tea
b) Smiling and walking away as soon as possible
How to deal with The Shy One:
You actually have another option: say hello, introduce yourself and ask them about their business. All it takes is a “Hi, I’m Jen” followed by a “so what is it that you do?”.
Even if they’re still difficult to have a conversation with, they will remember how kind you were and you never know where that hello could take you.
6. The Card Slinger
Their one objective is give their business card to every single person in the room. You’re having a great conversation with a couple of people and they just pop into the middle of you and say, “can I just give you one of these?” and thrust their card at you before popping back out and moving on to their next victims.
How to deal with The Card Slinger:
Take the card and drop it in the recycling when you get home.
I really hope I’ve not put you off networking for life and you learn to deal with these tricky characters! And if you’ve come across other types of networkers and have tips to deal with them, we’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line and share your stories.
Informi have a wealth of resources to support you in starting and growing your business. Perhaps you want to learn how to tell a great story to make sure your 60-seconds at the next networking meeting is as effective as possible? Or if you struggle with talking to people, you might find our marketing tips for introverts helpful.