Monday, April 9, 2012

Beware the Bottom Feeders...

Business networking has a variety of interesting and dysfunctional personalities that can distract you from your ultimate goal. Not only do we need to be aware of these personalities, but we also have to have a plan as to how to deal with them. Over the next couple of installments we’ll explore this topic.

So what is a bottom feeder? A bottom feeder is someone who uninvited tries to sell you their products or services at a networking event. Often they’ll begin by asking you qualifying questions to see if you are a prospect for their product or service? The worst of these bottom feeders don’t even qualify you they just start selling. Some can be fairly aggressive and they may attempt to corner you and sell their wares. When they find out that you’re not a prospect they move on quickly to the next target.

These bottom dwellers can leave a path of carnage as they disenfranchise event participants. The most important word that you need to learn here is “NO.” You have the power and the obligation to everyone in your network to stop bottom feeders. Say “NO” early and often and they’ll get the message.

Response suggestions:

  • Fundamental - “No, I am not interested in your product or service”
  • Advanced - “No, the purpose of this group is to network not sell. Should I introduce you to the host who will acquaint you with networking fundamentals?”

We can not network in a vacuum. The best networks are strong communities of like minded people. The networking eco-system requires strong leadership and integrity from each of us.

Most bottom feeding is unintended. They are often good people who have become lazy. Guide them, coach them, and connect them with the host for mentoring and you will build the powerful stream that you intend.

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