Don’t Network Like My Neighbor’s Newfoundland

I “met” my neighbor’s Newfoundland, Teddy, today while walking.

There’s nothing like taking a leisurely afternoon stroll down the street – and then being chased by a growling, barking 200-plus pound dog.

Don't Nework Like My Neighbor's Newfoundland

Even though I’m a dog lover, I’m still a bit leery of being charged by large animals, so I simply continued to walk and look for the nearest tree to climb in case “Teddy” had plans to devour me.

With no climbable trees in sight, I turned to face my pursuer.  He continued to growl and drool and bark at me aggressively.  Then, after a while, he slowly approached and nudged my hand with his snout – he wanted to be petted!  All of that bravado, posturing and aggressive behavior in an attempt to “coerce” me into giving him some attention!

Once I obliged, Teddy was a friendly fellow – wagging his tail and sitting very nicely while I talked to him in my silly “nice doggie” voice and pet him.

Don’t Network like my Neighbor’s Newfoundland

So what does my neighbor’s Newfoundland have to do with networking?

Well, I got to thinking about how some folks approach networking like Teddy the Newfoundland:

1.  They try to position themselves as “The Big Dog.”
Some folks think that when they are out networking, that they need to be perceived as the super successful, confident and most important person in the room.  They jockey for center-of-attention status and bragging rights to the latest story of their accomplishments.

Unfortunately, they often do this at the expense of others – making people feel intimidated or afraid to speak.

It’s okay to be confident and to share about good things happening in your life and business – just don’t be obnoxious about it.  Nobody likes a braggart.  Be sure to give others the opportunity to share the spotlight as well.

2.  They “chase” after their potential customers online.
You exchange cards at an event and them BAM!  You are suddenly being stalked on 7 different social networking sites and your blog by someone you hardly know, but who “wants to be friends/connect” with you all over the web.

Sometimes, they even combine their attempts to connect online with the good old sales pitch – “Hi, Cathy!  I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.  AND, here is a link to my company brochure, website, product and services list and a calendar to schedule a sales presentation – by me, your new best friend!”

Bombarding people with online connection requests makes you look desperate and feels smothering to the person on the receiving end.

Don’t overwhelm your new connections with tons of messages and requests online.  Instead, simply choose one site where you both are active and it makes the most sense to connect to reach out and extend an invitation.  That way, you can get to know one another first by having some “virtual conversations” and learn about potential ways for you to support one another.

Then, if you find that it makes sense, connect with them on other sites as well.

3.  They “bark” out their 30 second pitch at everyone.
All too often, people at networking events tend to recite their commercials and pitch their business at others – without even attempting to engage people in conversation first. 

There’s an art to being able to tell others about what you do without sounding like a corporate answering machine message.  It starts by talking like a real person and not a telemarketer.

 4.  They “corner their prey” at events.
Instead of approaching people in a natural, conversational way and attracting them by offering value first, they view networking as a “hunt” for clients.  They view everyone in the room as “fair game” and often “latch on” to their prey for longer than necessary conversations where they monopolize the conversation by speaking AT others rather than WITH them.

Networking events are for shorter, friendly, more “exploratory” conversations rather than long, private talks – and certainly NOT the place for long-winded sales pitches.

5.  They “drool” at the prospect of a potential sale.
Ever see those “dollar signs” in the eyes of someone you are talking to at a networking event?  Ask just one polite question about their business or even express an interest in learning more and they are salivating as they think about how much income they will get if they can just “close” you right then and there.

I probably don’t need to tell you how much people dislike being “sold to” or being rushed into a sales conversation – because no one I’ve ever met enjoys being on the receiving end of this sort of behavior.  So just don’t do it.

Networking is about meeting people, making introductions and developing rapport – NOT selling!  (unless the person explicitly tells you that they want to buy exactly what you are offering and whips out their checkbook – then, go for it!) 

Take the time to create the connection first and then you will know if your new contact is in fact someone who would be interested in your product/service and if a sales conversation should even take place.

All of these “aggressive behaviors” are simply going to put off the very people you wish to attract to your business.  Worse yet, when you do these things, you gain a reputation as someone to avoid at events and online. (I bet you can think of someone right now that fits this description, can’t you?  Don’t be “that guy.”)

So, in order to be successful at developing relationships that can potentially lead to clients, referrals and other opportunities, don’t network like my neighbor’s Newfoundland!

Comments

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  1. Interesting comparison :))

  2. Cathy,
    I absollutely LOVED this! This is something I’ve experienced as a participant in the UBC over the last year and a half. I’m not currently doing a business and I’m not in any position to be “sold to” in support of the businesses of others. I am more than interested in networking, finding out what people are doing and what their interests are, learning from them through observation and interaction. Then, whenever I encounter new people who share a similar need or interest, I’m happy to refer or pass them on. But, it’s about learning to build relationships and having the patience, taking the time, to establish credibility and trust.

    Spot on!

    Blessings,
    Lillian

    • So glad you enjoyed it, Lillian!

      Most of my “fodder” for blog posts comes from real life experiences — so, I’ve experienced a lot of what you have as well.

      Thanks for stopping by — and, keep up the GREAT networking!

  3. A+ for the hilarious extended metaphor–and the good advice! Also, your neighbor’s dog sounds like a scary sweetie.

  4. Sandi Tuttle says:

    I love this! And our one dog, T. Bear (Teddy Bear) is a Newfie/Rottweiler mix – he has the same problem – people only see his size, and not the fact that he thinks he is a teacup Yorkie… Keep writing!

    • Thanks, Sandi!

      I love Newfoundlands — a friend of mine used to breed and show them and they are such sweet dogs. I was actually a bit startled that he was aggressive towards me. Apparently, I looked rather fearsome in my pink flower hat and bright green sneakers. :-)

  5. GREAT post!

    I agree with you that networking is about helping each other out. Not about being the loudest or braggart. I love Zig Zigglars quote…the more people you help succeed, the more you will succeed.

  6. I love it!! So perfect and makes complete sense. Reading your post I could totally see you maybe doing a speed walk. Great comparison!

    • Thanks, Debbie!

      Yes, I was certainly trying to speed up my walk, but Teddy was insistent on getting what he wanted — now we’re friends!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  7. Wow, what a great comparison! I wish some of my followers on Twitter would read this.

  8. Cindy Baccus says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing such a great ‘get to the point’ article. I just have to share this with my following.

  9. Lovely post – because every dog lover reading this can so totally identify. Now, if you can somehow find a cute cat video that makes the same point….

  10. I love this post! Having an affinity for big dogs of the furry variety, and having been subjected to those other two-legged “big dogs” I can certainly relate.

  11. What a great post. Really made me smile and relate to.
    Thank you

  12. Can this post be pinned to the top of the Facebook group for the Ultimate Blog Challenge? The over-aggressiveness via social media is so, so true. Like Lillian, I’m not doing the challenge as a business owner – I’m a personal blogger. Nor am I interested in being pitched a ton of sales stuff. I just want to read other ideas, interact, etc., as part of the blogging community and hopefully find a few connections for casual writer friendships via blog. Yet somehow I keep getting added to their advertisement lists JUST for bothering to comment/give feedback as the UBC encourages. It’s quite frustrating.

    Great post – and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on your future posts this month!

    Happy New Year,
    Melissa

    • Melissa –

      Thanks for the great comment!

      For some reason, basic etiquette sometimes just goes right out the window with folks networking online. I don’t have a lot of tolerance for that sort of thing, either and really appreciate your perspective of relationships first. I don’t like to be “a number” or just part of someone’s “list” and I can’t imagine anyone who does.

      Hope to see you here again soon!

  13. Hi Carla
    I love that your first idea was to climb a tree to escape.
    Although I am no climber, some networking would have me up a tree, for sure.
    Thanks for your tips.
    Judith
    x

    • Judith,

      I don’t know that I could have ACTUALLY climbed the tree, but it was a thought. :-)

      Yes, some bad networking behavior makes me want to run up a tree to hide, too.

      Thanks for the comment.

  14. This, by far, is the absolute worst feeling: “They ‘corner their prey’ at events.” We’ve all been that cornered person as someone drones on and makes a horrible impression. Great analogies, Cathy! Thanks for the chuckle!

    • I agree, Tess! I used to dread networking for this very reason because my first experience at a mixer ended with this very situation! (not with a Newfoundland, but a very pushy businessman)

      Glad I could make you chuckle, too — that’s worth it!

  15. I IMMEDIATELY pinned this. Yes, I’ve seen some of those guys and like you and the dog I kept walking away to hope they didn’t follow. I actually had someone do this to me earlier this week. Right off the gate, no knowing me friend requested me from a group, which was fine but right away wanted to jump on the phone… freaked me out. Yeah, don’t be that ‘guy or gal’. Eww! LOVE this post!

    • Wow! Thanks, Heather!

      Lots of bad networking behavior out there — that’s why I’m on a mission to make networking fun (for all of us) and productive!

      Thanks for the comment.

  16. Hi Cathy,

    Great piece. I messaged you on Facebook but will comment here as well for your readers. The word “Newfoundland” attracted me because my husband is from that province. The post made me smile AND it added tremendous value to my day. I will be sharing it with my clients and the networking groups I’m involved with. This is great, practical advice. I look for forward to the conversation!

    Regards,
    Aprille

  17. hahaha!! reminds me of the neighbourhood rotweiller! For sure, I too don’t like the big dog approach! the drool alone makes conversation awkward! hahaha! great job! p

  18. Perfect comparison. Someone could be a great person but just the way they act could scare someone away before they get a chance to figure that out.

    • So true, Michael.

      Most of the “bad behavior” I see is either from ignorance or lack of awareness of one’s behavior and how it affects others.

      Thanks for the comment.

  19. Haha this post is just brilliant! It’s so true as well, perfect comparison. This reminds me of my first networking event where I literally ran… :-)

  20. Jerry Katz says:

    Well, I can say I’ve seen a few of those type of Networking folks. Great Read! Thanks!

    • Jerry,

      Unfortunately, most of us have met these folks. BUT, there are also a lot of GREAT people out there who truly enrich our lives if we connect with them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Cathy

  21. Huh. Thought I had commented on this one before, but I guess not. Great piece and fun to read, to boot.

  22. I loved it!! you made a great comparison! it was funny but very well written! I definitely enjoyed reading it :)

  23. All of this…so true! “Attacking” people at a networking event will never pay off in the long run.

  24. Wonderful post. I’m headed to an event this weekend so I’m sure I’ll see “Teddy”.

  25. What an adorable article, Cathy! And I couldn’t help but to go back to Teddy’s photo to take one last look. I love how you took a life experience and weaved it into a business lesson.

  26. Love the comparison! I’m sure we’ve all been to networking events where we’ve seen not one, but maybe two or more, like Teddy.

  27. Very cool analogy and thanks for sharing your story about your neighbors dog. Actually, I 100% agree with your don’t list. As business people, we really have to take note of these. Thanks again Cathy for sharing your thoughts.

  28. Interesting post! These tips are indeed great for networking. Which of the tips do you consider as the most important?

    • Thanks, Lorii.

      For me, I think #3 — NOT barking out your 30 second commercial at everyone — is most important. Clear communication is essential to building relationships, but if all you do is spout off marketing pitches at people, they will lose interest immediately.

      How about you?

  29. Incredible article Cathy and being the owner of two dogs myself (though not a big as Teddy), I know how at least one of them can appear menacing at first but is actually a big softie (unless he thinks you want to hurt his family, then RUN!).

    Your article touched on so many things I have experienced in real life and I think the one that I dislike the most is the 30 second pitch. There’s nothing worse than asking a person what they do, they bust out the pitch, and I still have no idea because they told me in ‘sales speak’ rather than their own words o_O

    Just excellent points all around and I will definitely be sharing this on my social media platforms!

  30. Great, great, great article! I don’t know why anyone would aspire to be “that guy”, but some do. I have noticed that a few things happen when someone gets too aggressive with sales, a person immediately goes on the defensive and even if the aggressor has the cure to some fatal illness the person suffers from, they wouldn’t buy it; a person simply avoids and dodges the person at all costs; or worse yet, a person feels bullied and buys out of intimidation. Good business, like you said, is about rapport, the people served. Its a sad thing when money is the sole driver.

    • Thanks, Cathy!

      There’s a balance between promoting your business and being overly salesy in how you do it. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of very bad behavior out there because certain experts, authors and trainers teach people to do those things. (and, sometimes they luck out and it works, too)

      Let’s make networking more fun, enjoyable and profitable for everyone involved!

  31. MODInteriors says:

    This is such a great article and so true. It really gave me some pointers for my next networking event.

    Thanks Cathy,