Sunday, April 22, 2012

Guilty as Charged...The Hazards of Premature Discrimination

Figuring out whom to spend time with is one of the most difficult challenges in networking.  We attend events. Maybe we have even had a chance to review the projected attendee list before the event. We look for intriguing company names and people of note. When we get to the event we survey the name tags as we walk through the room and evaluate people’s appearance in the hopes of eliciting a clue as to who to meet. Ultimately, these superficial indicators prove not to be very valuable and we walk right by some of our most valuable connections.

This is the final of three posts that focus on exploring the three most dysfunctional personality types who attend networking events. Not only do we need to be aware of these personalities, but we also must have a plan as to how to deal with them. It is important that these personalities not distract you from your ultimate goal.

While we may not be a bottom feeder or a wander or clinger the personalities profiled in the first two posts of this series, chances are each of us has been a premature discriminator. While some discrimination is important as it allows us to focus our relationship building efforts, premature discrimination causes us to miss some of the most valuable relationships because we “judged the book by its cover.”

So let’s put the shoe on the other foot to see how limiting our choices have been. Would it be fair for someone walking past you at an event to choose not to introduce them self based on your name tag or appearance? Would they be able to tell about your vast background in a variety of industries? Would they know all of the positions that you’ve held or who you are connected to by your name tag? Would they know who you’re married to, who your parents are or who your best friend from high school is? OF COURSE NOT AND NOT MEETING YOU WOULD BE THEIR LOSS!

You can definitely improve your ability to connect to the right people at events by reviewing the projected attendee list and scanning the name badges at the check-in table. Get to the next level of key contacts by using these tactics:

  • Ask the host or tenured members who you should meet - be prepared to guide them if needed, but you may find it best not to limit their thinking
  • Ask your most valuable contacts in the group who else you should meet - these contacts know you and they have a better level of intimacy with some key people in the group who you should meet
  • Make it a habit to introduce yourself to and learn about at least a couple of people at each event who you normally would have by-passed - expanding your comfort zone as well as your perspective is vitally important to your networking success

These tips are geared to help you leverage the knowledge and relationships of the people who you know to help you continue to build a more vibrant and effective network. Look beyond the name tag and appearance. See the person and their rich background.

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