Are You Guilty of the Business Networking “Hit and Run”?

Networking Hit and Run

Networking Hit and Run

Have you ever NOT wanted to or NOT had time to attend a business networking function, but forced yourself to go — at least for a little while?  Sure you have.  After all, you’re busy.  You don’t have time to waste standing around networking events, making chit-chat with a bunch of people who only want to try to sell you something.

So, you say to yourself “Self, we’re only going to stay for a half hour.  Then, we’re out of here.”  And off you go to “network.”

You meet someone, strike up a conversation, hand them your card, spew forth your 30 second commercial, spend 5 or 10 minutes talking to them and say something like “We should get together sometime soon and talk about this further.”  Then, on to the next person — same scenario.

Once your time is up, you leave — tossing your newly acquired business cards into a purse or jacket pocket.

And the folks left holding your business card and expecting an email or call from you, never hear from you again.

That, my friends, is the Networking Hit and Run.  You “hit” them with your pitch and your business card, then “run” off to make another contact — never looking back or following up.

It’s a crime, really.  You’ve just stolen someone’s precious time from them — something they can never get back.  Don’t you hate it when someone wastes YOUR time?  Sure you do!

Networking is only effective if you follow up with and maintain the contacts that you make.

Simply collecting cards at events doesn’t equate to building your network — it’s only data collection.

You have no relationship with these people, so if you try to sell to them or ask them for something, they won’t be very motivated to help you or do business with you.

Think about that the next time you are at a networking event — don’t leave a chalk outline on the floor by the people you network with!

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  1. Love the crime scene graphic and analogy. So accurate. I stopped attending networking functions because I was not interested in the services or products others were pitching. I did not want to meet for coffee. It was so inauthentic, it was uncomfortable. I always wore our handmade jewelry. Would receive compliments, didn’t have to pitch unless asked a question. Had a great2 sec intro with hooks and after years spent going to many different groups, even choosing one that felt like the best fit, I chose to eliminate atending. I do much more on-line networking in groups and thru posts/blogs.

    • Roslyn — sorry to hear that you’ve abandoned networking due to some negative experiences. This happens a lot, unfortunately, because people perpetuate truly bad behavior and not actual connecting.

      When I started running into this sort of thing, I learned how important it is for me to be more selective in where I network and to ensure that I was in the right group for my business goals. Too often we simply go to whatever is available or closest — when, in reality, it may make more sense to invest in attending a particular workshop or conference where the networking is a better fit.

  2. Very clever way to make your point. I really enjoy networking events now that I realize that the most valuable part is listening. Yes, give your little explanation of what you do, but then listen to see if the person is likely to be someone you want to cultivate. Or just become friends with.

    • Beth — a lot of networking advice focuses on the “30 second commercial” and telling others what you do. But, as you point out, an equally important part of connecting is listening!

  3. Yes this is useless Networking. Would be better to stay home. Follow up is a must if you don’t want to be forgotten. What is the point in getting all those contacts if you don’t talk again??

    • Mike — that is often my advice — if you aren’t going to engage in true connecting/listening/follow through, then just stay home and don’t waste YOUR time or the time of those you talk to!

  4. Thoughts about valuing the importance of networking really count most in the business success. Spending time marketing your products to an individual who is interested in buying is a plus factor. The networking should not be a “hit and run.”

    • Lorii,

      It’s always so important to have the right mindset when going into a networking situation. Too often we are only seeking to pitch and not listen and make real connections.

  5. Thank you so much for this – I am finding this very useful as I plan to start attending more networking events. Thank you!

  6. I”m not particularly crazy about networking events… they do usually feel like a waste of time. I do believe they are good for establishing long term relationships that may or may not result in a client. So far, not so much luck. I do like one on one meeting though!

    • Ironically, Lisa, I think sometimes that events labeled “Networking Events” are often NOT the best places to make connections. :-)

      Instead, I think it’s incredibly important to find the right group of people — whether potential clients, referral partners, mentors, etc. — and find folks who understand the purpose and importance of creating meaningful connections.

  7. You never fail to provide real and accurate analogies. I can sense who these people are in most cases… the ones who hustle through the conversation and don’t take time to engage with you. It’s hard to make time for these types of events, but as you said, if you don’t actually make the time it’s pointless. I love the groups I’m a part of for the referral network we’ve become and great friends I’ve made. It’s nice to know other local business owners who can discuss their trials and tribulations with me.

    I LOL’d at your “data collection” comment. You are on point! If you don’t take initiative to follow up, you’ve wasted your “30 minute” window regardless. Great article… tweeting this out to my followers!

    • Thanks so much Holly!

      It’s disheartening sometimes to run into “those types” at events — there’s always at least one person who thinks it’s a contest to collect the most cards and add everyone to their spam list!

      You really take the time to nurture your business relationships and provide value — through your social media posts, blog and through your comments, too. Bravo!

      Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!

  8. Great analogy! I will never understand why anyone bothers to attend an event if they aren’t going to be completely present while there and then actually do the proper follow up after.

    • Beth,

      You are such a seasoned networker and connector that it probably just seems “natural” to follow up. Believe me, there is so much BAD advice about networking — including the card collecting and spamming strategies that are taught in so many workshops and books. BLECH!

      So glad you see the value in following up!

      Thanks for your comment.

  9. Super point, Cathy. Yes, I think we’ve all been guilty of that (me, too). Follow-up is something I need to improve, for sure. Thanks for the kick in the pants. 😉

    • Hey Jackie!

      Yes, we ALL fail to follow up perfectly at times, but the point is to follow up if you expect anything to happen beyond that initial introduction or meeting.

      Even though I teach networking and connecting, I need to motivate myself to invest the time in following up — that’s why I have a process for sorting my initial connections so that I’m following up on top priorities first and then managing those contacts appropriately. It made a real difference for me.

      Thanks so much for reading!

  10. So true Cathy and a great read….funny thing too, they did the same thing if you aren’t hearing from them… and they just pitched your biz card… right? lol

    • So right, Kristen!

      When I first heard the statistic that over 80% of business cards are thrown away, I looked at the reasons why. First, was lack of real connection. Second — no follow up! That’s when I instituted my new rule: “If I’m too busy to follow up, I’m too busy to be networking!”

      Thanks for your comment!