Networking Ninja or Numbskull…Which one are you?



Five years ago, I asked my fellow LinkedIn group members to post their advice for those who are attending networking events and not getting much new business or return on their investment of time and money.

What resulted were some great strategies we can all walk away with to better improve our own ROI at our next networking event!

Add your own networking strategies to the mix and help others better their own networking abilities!

Angie Tekin, CSP• Definitely evaluate the events you are attending….do you have unrealistic expectations? Is this your target group? Is the group interested in the service or product that you offer? Are you expecting a “slam dunk” and not working on developing relationships which in turn provide business? If you are getting the same results, you need to do something different. 😉

Scott Schilbrack • Great points from Angie, a true artist at networking. I would only add that if you go looking to promote yourself primarily you are likely to be transparent and fall flat but if you go looking to engage with others and learn about THEIR companies and THEIR pet causes and THEIR services and their ideal prospect and how THEY can possibly help you or others you are connected with your sincerity will be just as obvious. Rather or not you are able to provide others their ideal opportunity they will become more interested in learning about and helping you. If it is a worthwhile group, don’t be afraid to donate your time money and other resources, but if it is not, abandon ship early and go find a group of more like-minded professionals.

Al Bagocius • Angie & Scott- Great comments! Also…Don’t be afraid of asking for help…At your next event, ask the question of someone you meet, “How do I grow my business?” That question brings out the “expert” in all of us! 🙂 We’re all farmers here planting seeds!!

Kimberly Herring • I have had this problem BIG time, being the reserved “shy” person and at the end of every event I would become the frustrated person. Until I sat with one of the organizers of a networking event, I didn’t realize the problem “I” was creating. So from that conversation I learned something that I can pass along as friendly advice: DO WHAT MAKES YOU COMFORTABLE (take a friend, arrive at venue before event starts to be almost like the unofficial welcome committee, stay or arrive towards end of event to offer help to coordinators & network with them, set a goal for yourself even if it is just to talk and exchange info with 3 people even if the room has hundreds in attendance). Then lastly.. FOLLOW UP with the contacts that you did make.
Best wishes to you on your next networking event Al !

Bill Gladstone • It can be awkward, but weigh the positives against the negatives. Positives: I’ll pick up some network contacts which will give me the potential to increase my sales volume if I can sell to them or by utilizing leads they provide. And maybe I continue my personal growth as I start to “chip away” at my problem.

The negatives: (what is the worse thing that can happen to me)? I’ll have a period of time (an hour or so) during which I may feel very awkward among people who may not realize that and whom I may never see again?

Perhaps worth the try?

Darice Eppinger • Maybe post a question to the networking group before the event (if you can) asking who’s going and agree to meet them there. Also, there are some great books out there on the subject to, including “Networking Like a Pro.” Join your local BNI group so you see the same people every single week; you will make lifelong connections, not have to begin “new” every time. Good luck!

Aron Elal • I find that I get my best ideas and motivation in trying to figure out how I can help others. And that usually fullfills my business card holder 😉

Darice Eppinger • @AE: that’s what they say: to approach networking with the intention of helping others first and it will come back to you.

Bill Gladstone • I had one last week. Twenty- twenty-five people when I showed up, and they knew each other. Trying to break in was difficult, but what else do you do? Just stand there? SO I found one person to say “hell-o” to! And then there was another person talking with us, so it was three. Then we sat at the table for lunch and now there were six of us. Remember everyone is probably there for the same purpose. As tough (awkward) as it might be on you, it may be as tough on them.

Take a deep breath and jump in. Remember, if it doesn’t work out, you tried and you probably won’t see these people again if you don’t come back. But good practice for you.

Tony Silver FCMI • Here at the chamber we run around 200 events a year and we ensure any new guests are greeted and looked after. If they are looking for someone in a particular line of business then we will facilitate the introduction. We are a professional company who do this all the time, which is the difference.
I also agree strongly with the trying to help mind-set, this will get you involved far quicker and last longer. Do not go in on a full sales strategy.

David Wojcik • Networking events are not for “getting” business. Also, networking is a marathon, not a sprint. Networking events are designed for building relationships and marketing yourself and your brand. Those who attend networking events with a view to sell their service or product will most often be disappointed. I have found the best technique is to find someone you can help and be known as the “go to” person when people want to be connected. By offering your help to others, the rule of reciprocity will eventually kick in, and business will come your way.

Dave Adams • I’ve been following and interacting with Michael Hughes for years. Networking is a “skill” that can be learned and Michael, I’ve found, is the best at teaching it.

David Wojcik • There are 3 videos with tips on networking at . In the upper right hand corner, there is a search text box. Search for Paula Hope. Paula is a networking and referral “Guru” with great advice on how to master the “art” of networking.

Suresh Chandra Khere• Please do or get it done SWOT analysis of subtle hidden points.

Alin Merches • There could be multiple reasons why you don’t get new business:
1) could be because you don’t speak to anyone
2) if you speak to people, maybe your service you are offering is not that engaging or useful for them

Of course there could be many other personal aspects in this like: the way you act, the way you speak and build confidence, the way you are dressed, etc etc…

Helen Harper • I don’t have answers to your actual questions, but I wonder if networking events are the best use of your time? If your ROI has so far been low, perhaps instead invest more in your website, social media, and/or marketing materials?

Erik Hentell • Networking is really a long-term ROI proposition. You won’t get clients today or tomorrow, but if you do it regularly you will be in the back of someone’s mind when they decide they need something. You’re sort of building a long-term business relationship. Also, if you do something at an event that makes someone happy, that person will return to the event and will talk about you to others. You do have to pick the right networking events, though. Not all networking organizations are the same. Also, don’t rely on networking alone. It’s time-to-returns is often large enough that you need to combine it with other strategies.

Keith Fahy • Try to live your life, or be so adept at being so creative that you just go around in circles! If you are following a creative path, (I am not sure) if the former is, then, assimilate, imbue, what a crock. If u are creative, be, and run. Hey, I say this in the best, best respect. If I knew, in retro, I would never get involved in my lifes` dream. Creative Events & I am quite good. can u decipher? Creative Events is a bit of an ¬Oxymoran¬ its full of non creative people. Before the truly creative get up in arms, it’s a business, always is. My advice is leave with a bang!

Douglas Ricks• I would say to make sure you talk to every body in the room for at least 5 minutes… dont just talk about business try to get to know them personally once people feel comfortable with you and know a little about you then there more inclined to do business with you or refer people to you.

Amy Rutter • If you haven’t already, you could try different types of networking events – such as a business or dinner networking event and/or I’ve also seen activity business networking events like going paintballing!

Swap business cards with everyone you meet and connect with them as soon as you can on LinkedIn. Follow it up with an email saying it was really nice to meet them, remind them what you do and offer your services if they’re ever needed.

Charles Turner • Many times people just show up with a stack of cards and try to sell right away. Here’s some of the things I try to do…
Arrive early and stay a little later to meet new faces
Warm up your voice before entering especially morning events
Check your breath, especially if you already had coffee
ALWAYS have bus. cards, rare case you don’t get one of theirs and mail them one of yours
Don’t bring brochures or hand outs, use those for follow ups
Use name badges, I usually write my name large without my company name
Use a business handshake, not a 2 handed or dominating style
Don’t apologize for anything, cold hands, traffic etc
Say your name in a way that’s easy to recognize, Wendy like the hamburger or Lynne with an e
Try to establish rapport with things in common (NOT business related), meet each other as humans
Ask the other person what they do, give them good attention at this time
Have 3-5 “stories” prepped on what I do
When some one asks what’s new, NEVER answer “same story, different day”
Exchange bc after we’ve talked about business, never give one unless asked
Get information or comment on the card you receive
Don’t use them as a way to broadcast email from your account
Make notes on the back of the card, let them see or use a note pad (I usually keep a 3.5×8.5 pad that will fit in a coat or back pocket)
Know when to get rid of someone usually 6-10 minutes, introduce them to someone else and fade away, find some one new and repeat process. It’s better to hit 5-6 people this way than to blast through 30-40 just saying hey, here’s my card call me if you need something.
Follow through, we all know the rule of thumb on this….

Paula Kramer

The link above will take you to an Associated Press article. The section to pay attention to is towards the end, about Wisconsin. Then, go to and download two PDF files on lower right side of the Home page, the DISC Cheat Sheet file and the Needs & Passions file.

The marketing success you will read about in the article comes from marketing value passion satisfaction. The foster parents who seek fulfillment have a Harmony guiding value. The foster parents who have spiritual desires have a Belief guiding value.

The PDF page on passions explains those values and four others. It will also will help you understand how to market value passion satisfaction, whether in person or by other means. The DISC Cheat Sheet will help you recognize and satisfy behavior style needs when you talk to someone in person.

Pay attention to the fact that two behavior styles do not like to be touched. I just heard a story of cruel revenge because a citizen touched a politician who does not like to be touched.

Helen Wilkie • When people tell me networking doesn’t work for them, I find they are often committing what I call the “three cardinal sins of networking.” Assuming you are attending the right events in the first place (ie where your potential clients hang out, rather than you friends or your competitors), you might find my article on these “sins” helpful. You’ll find it here:

Ben Gay III • Al, I have to admit I’ve been to less than 10 “official” networking/business card swapping events in my life. Probably five or so. Most reminded me of “lonely hearts clubs.” Instead, I’m a one man, constantly moving, networking machine!

Acting as if I’m running for office from the instant I leave home/the hotel in the morning, I talk with just about everyone I encounter. Between face-to-face contacts, my sales training seminars, the peel-off-the-back business cards we put on the first page of every book we ship from my “The Closers” series (inside all CDs and DVDs, too!), we go through thousands of my personal business cards every month . . . all over the world!

Positive example: I recently did a seminar for a company’s national sales organization as a result of its owner buying one of my “stickered” books at a garage sale. The book was 20 years old and he called me right from the driveway!

Side thought: Once you publish a phone number, email, etc., hang on to it! I’ve had the “800 number” he called for almost 40 years and haven’t published it anywhere in 26 years . . . but it still produces sales almost every day!

Business cards, smiles, kind words, expressing personal interest, gentle kidding and handshakes are all very inexpensive sales & marketing tools!

Remember, that’s Ben Gay III at (800) 248-3555!

Diane Helbig • I would say stop thinking you are going to get business at networking functions. Networking is about building relationships with people who may or may not need what you have to sell. It is through those relationships that you will gain opportunities to do business. People do business with people they trust. By working on helping other people and building relationships with them you will gain referrals because those people will have had a chance to get to know you and trust you.

Karen Southall Watts • Nice article Helen. I am creating some materials for a fall presentation on networking for entrepreneurs and knowing who is in the room is going to be one of my key points. I want entrepreneurs (my target audience) to understand when/how to talk to the 3 C’s when networking: customers, competitors, colleagues…when the stuff is ready I will come back and post for some feedback.

Melanie Votaw • I agree with Diane that you have to build relationships with people. However, I think the key way to get business faster is by asking relevant questions. In those answers, you may discover that this person has a problem which your business can solve. This is the way I have managed to get business from networking events. In fact, it happened just the other day through finding out the needs of the person I was talking with.

Jeff Vankooten• Stop networking and start building a network that can provide you a steady stream of clients for years to come. Build lasting relationships with those who know who you are, what you do, and are in the market you want to reach.

Beth Cole • All good. I’d also like to recommend Lynne Waymon as a networking genius, who, with her sister, has written at least three wonderful books on networking. Lynne has a free eLetter too. Her organization is Contacts Count and her e-mail is She is on LinkedIn, of course and you can certainly google her for more information. I recommend her to all of my clients who are job seeking and/or marketing their businesses.

kevin booth • I’ve always gathered more business relationships by “helping” a potential customer rather than solicitating business from them. Every one at any point in time has a need for something. It’s usually not what I’m offering, but if I can refer them to someone who can help them now then later on when they do need my services I have already become a trusted resource.

Here’s my take…We have 2 ears, and 1 mouth…so listen twice as much as you talk. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” 

Most people like this FM station…WIIFM…”What’s In It For Me!”

We’re all centers of our own universe, some more than others…

Al Bagocius

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