Do you go to networking functions and never connect with the right kind of people?
Do you meet people and then don’t know what to say or do next?
Do you want to meet a particular person and can never find a way to break the ice?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you need to understand your networking personality better.
As human beings, we all have patterns of behaviour, which we follow on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis.
Let me help you understand.
Some years ago, I lived at the end of a train line and would catch the train to my office each day.
Because it was the end of the line, there was always an empty train waiting for me at the station when I arrived, with plenty of seats to choose from.
One day I walked into a carriage and sat down to read my morning paper.
Some minutes later, I noticed a man walking onto the train. Soon, he was beside me, twitching and staring at me.
I stopped reading my paper and said: “Can I help you?”
He said: “Yes, you are sitting in my seat, I sit there every day.”
I glanced up and said: “Not today!” and grinned.
This was met with a very concerned look from the man. He looked lost as if he didn’t know what to do.
Finally I stood up and said: “Here, have your seat.”
He sat down with a contented sigh. He had his prized seat and I learnt an interesting lesson.
From that day onwards, I watched my “train friend” and other passengers and noted that they all sat in the same seat every day.
Thus began my lifelong interest in people and their habits.
Everyone has patterns or habits that he repeats every day.
When men shave, they usually follow a routine or pattern every time. And when women put on their make-up, I’m sure they follow a pattern too.
People have patterns about how they like to behave at networking functions as well.
Research by the Referral Institute has shown that there are four different networking patterns that can be identified at any networking function. See if you can identify your style:
The go-getter is someone who attends a networking function with a clear reason or intention. He knows what he wants and goes after it.
The go-getter may want to meet a well-known keynote speaker to discuss a possible engagement for his company’s forthcoming global retreat.
He goes to the function with this specific purpose, and as soon as the formalities are over, he leaves because he has done what he came to do.
Go-getters are very goal-oriented and stick to their plan. They are very focused and direct with their conversation and actions.
You can identify go-getters easily as they are always immaculately dressed.
The promoter is the person who knows everyone at the networking function and is fabulous at promoting himself and others.
He is often meeting new people and introducing them to others in the group: “Kevin, have you met Cheryl? She is the country’s top real estate guru, you must talk to her.”
Promoters are well-connected people and sometimes are so busy promoting others that they forget to promote their own product or service.
Promoters stand out in the crowd by wearing flamboyant clothes, bright colours and matching accessories.
The nurturer arrives early to support the host or organiser of the function.
He works silently in the background, helping to set up the room, distribute the brochures and hand out the name badges. He nurtures long-term relationships and is very reliable.
Being introverted, nurturers are more conservatively dressed and blend into the background.
These people, however, are staunch business allies and will stand by their colleagues through thick and thin.
The examiner dislikes networking with a passion but will attend functions because he knows he “has to”.
He would rather be at the office working on the month’s sales figures or reports for his boss or shareholders.
At a networking function, he is often very quiet and listens to the go-getters and promoters as they dominate the conversation.
If he participates, he will often ask in-depth questions because he loves to get to the bottom of issues.
Examiners are easy to spot in a conversation as they often ask a lot of questions.
They are the most conservative of dressers and will wear dated or “comfortable” clothes. They own just one suit and will wear it over and over for years because it is good economics to do so.
Adjust to connect
Understanding the four networking styles and how to interact with them effectively is vital if you want to master the art of networking.
Remember that not everyone is like you and sometimes you must adjust your behaviour if you wish to do business with someone who has a different networking style from you.