You see them huddled in the corner at a networking event, the sights of their weapon trained down on the attendance list…
They identify their targets on the list, and so the bear hunt starts. They prowl around the room, having short unfulfilling conversations until they finally succeed in tracking down one of their bears.
Once they have found their bear they start the delicate dance of, on the one hand trying to be charming, witty and interested, whilst lowering their gun, starting the sales process, and taking aim – hoping to capture this potential prospect and secure that valuable sales meeting…
But what does a bear do when it is under threat… it runs or fights back. And so the hunter, gets short shrift and starts the bear hunt again, re-circulating the room looking for another of the ‘ringed’ or ‘ticked’ prospects on their list.
I am sure as you are reading this you have been the bear. Like you, all I want to do when meeting the business networking equivalent of a bear hunter is disappear as quickly as possible, without giving them my card or too much air time. (After all, I just KNOW that they will put me on their mailing list without a second thought as to whether I have given them my permission) Very often, accountants and lawyers get a bad name for portraying these bear hunting tactics when networking.
I’m a little bit embarrassed to say this, but while I was learning the art of business networking, I thought I needed to be the bear hunter when out networking. After all, wasn’t I out business networking to win new business? In conversations, I would always be listening out for little hooks which would suggest that I had found a potential quarry to kill. I would always be aiming to do the whole initial sales process at that first chance meeting. I don’t know about you, but this way of business networking – bear hunting – always seemed to be really hard work, and very unfulfilling and frankly almost without exception, unsuccessful. So much rejection in the space of a few hours, made it very demotivating to go out networking. I felt bad about the pushy selling and the lack of success was starting to worry me.
And then the penny dropped… networking is hard work when you are a bear hunter always on the hunt for prospects… but easy when you aim to plant seeds, to grow fruit trees. Relationships, like fruit trees, take time to grow and mature. They need tending, nurturing and pruning – but out of these relationships the work will come. Any good gardener will spend most of their time with their existing plants, only popping out to the garden centre infrequently – in fact more often than not it is another gardener which will give them the right plant for their garden rather than having to go to a garden centre. My business networking tip is aim to be the gardener when networking rather than the bear hunter!
So which are you when networking? A bear hunter or gardener?