People avoid networking events for one reason—they can be stressful. Why are they stressful? Because of all the absolutely awful people you have to meet. There is hidden value in every event, but to find it, you have to navigate a minefield of personalities that can make you want to become a recluse. Everybody has a different networking style—and some are absolutely toxic. Identify and avoid the following people at all costs—they will never be worth the investment in time and energy.
The Bragger: Been There, Done That
There is a person at every event who is his or her own number one fan. Forget about your accomplishments or experiences—let’s talk about me! After all, my life is so much more interesting and exciting than yours! Oh, you visited Paris for the first time this summer? I’ve been going since I was a kid. Your business is expanding to China? Mine has been in Asia for years. Sometimes The Bragger is a narcissist, sometimes he or she is just insecure. Either way, The Bragger will never help you along. In fact, he probably won’t even notice you—unless you’re a mirror.
The Eternal Pessimist: Oh, Why Even Bother?
If The Bragger had an opposite, it would be The Eternal Pessimist. Like people who play the victim throughout their lives, The Eternal Pessimist is on a perpetual quest to find validation and gain sympathy. You’re not a business contact, you’re just another person who exists to reassure them and tell them everything is going to be OK. Everything is not going to be OK. The Eternal Pessimist is never going to be someone who brings constructive ideas and solutions to the table.
The Serial Business Card Giver: Take This Card—Since I’ve Given You Nothing Real to Remember
Business cards are great—unless they’re a substitute for a relationship. When The Serial Business Card Giver walks away, you won’t remember a thing about him. He didn’t engage, he didn’t inquire and he didn’t inspire—in fact, he barely made eye contact. The person who shoves a business card in your face as part of his or her introduction doesn’t have the time or the interest to build relationships. The Serial Business Card Giver is only interested in cold contacts, which you could get at home on your email.
The Life Story: So it Wasn’t Until After Your Roommate Moved Out That You … Zzzzzzzz
Some people just can’t resist the urge to lay it all on you. From family drama to medical issues, there is no subject on which the The Life Story won’t elaborate without solicitation. It’s not networking for them, it’s therapy. When you find yourself saying “uh-huh” once every few minutes during a never-ending anecdote that covers The Life Story’s divorce, car accident and religious epiphany, eject and pull your parachute. Consider the handoff—that’s when you pull someone else into the conversation and delicately walk away as The Life Story begins to make his new victim’s ears bleed.
The Serial Networker: Haven’t I Seen You Before?
Networking should be a tool—a means to an end. You’re supposed to go in with a goal and a plan that make the event worth the investment in time and energy. For The Serial Networker, however, the event is the end. They go from event to event. Their experience makes them appear to be polished and connected, but for The Serial Networker, events aren’t business tools, they are a substitute for a social life.
Go into every event with a goal and a plan, and try not to let either be sidetracked by these dangerous personalities. There is a fine line between protecting yourself and being rude, but if you trust your instincts and rely on the law of attraction, these people will be someone else’s problem.