Used and Abused in Networking


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Have you ever been to a networking event and left feeling dirty? Sort of that feeling you’ve gone, given every else something, everyone else has just been – take, take, take and you didn’t get anything back in return.  You’ve left feeling just disappointed.  Feeling a bit abused and taken advantage of.  This could have been people just talking about themselves, not listening to you or even asking about you.  Dominating the conversation.

My name is Edward Plant from The Business League. My wife Rebecca and I run The Business League which is a business networking support organisation on the Gold Coast. We aim to support business owners to create growth, better relationships, develop knowledge so you can improve your business and thirdly, Grow.  So  that your business actually grows from your networking. That’s what we do at all of our events.  WE do this through our three pillars of Connect, Develop, Grow.

If you’ve been to a networking event where you feeling like you’ve been taken advantage off, where you turned up and people have taken from you, you gave in and then people have just taken off without even so much as a “Hey, How are you? What do you do?” in return.

It’s not great and we know this because we recently had someone in our community that we felt was taking and not giving.  We thought they were just taking and weren’t supporting or helping others.  So we asked them to leave our community. We had a talk to them early on bout what being a member of our community means, then spoke to them when we saw this not happening, we then didn’t see any changes, so we had a frank conversation and let them know this wasn’t working and best we part ways. Our community is to important to let people in who are just ‘takers’.  However, that is another soapbox opportunity for me down the track.

So I digress.  What I really want to do today is talk to you about how you deal with those people that just take and really are toxic. They demand your time without really giving any of their time back.  It’s all about them.   They don’t listen and they only seem interested in building quick relationships that are all about them getting more customers and what you can do to support them achieve that.

What I want to do today is share with you 3 simple tips on how to change this to look after yourself and make sure you’re in a more powerful position so you don’t get stuck in to those people’s stories, drama and end up leaving feeling used and abused.  We want to give you some tools so that you can either get these people to work together with you in a mutually beneficial relationship or you can get away from them quickly without losing your energy and wasting another networking event. The tips for you to not feel “Used and Abused” are:

  1. Get Out of the Conversation. Get out as quick as possible. You need an eject button that you can hit and get out of there. So most of the time you know these people, can identify them early, but just end up getting stuck with them and not know how to get away.  So you need an exit strategy, just like the old party trick that is in the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral”.  This is where the nerdy, rich friend of the main group is at one of the wedding receptions, he’s chatting up a lady and he asks her a question and she replies something like “My husband would love to know the answer to that”.  The nerdy friend, a bit embarrassed, skulls his drink in front of her and then says, “Ohh look at that my glass is empty, I better go get another.” And then he takes off.  He hits the eject button and gets out of there quick smart.  Its like that at a networking event.  You need a couple of key sentences that can get you out of any conversation. You need to know how to quickly get out of the conversation at a networking event. For example: “Excuse me I’ve just seen someone I want to catch up with”, “Sorry for interrupting, its been great chatting to you, but I need to go to the toilet…” or if its someone you know quite well and always end up talking to at a networking event – be honest about it and say: “Hey its great to catch up with you, we always seem to run into each other so I’m going to go meet some people I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll see you soon.”
  2. Conversation Changer. Learn how to change the conversation or steer it towards something that is more balanced than them talking about themselves. Have a couple of comments, questions, or things that you can quickly bring out of your bag of tricks that will change the conversation to stop them from talking about themselves all the time. That can be as simple as doing the old politicians trick.  That is regardless of what they’re talking about you bring in one of your comments or questions. It is sort of doing what they are doing to you back to them. So, they could be talking about anything under the sun and you can interrupt them and say something like: “speaking of that it reminds me of” and launch into a new topic, a new conversation. It may not remind you of that thing, it may have nothing to do with it, but it doesn’t matter.  You just need to regain control of the conversation and steer it where you want it to go.  So you interrupt and then just go into a different story or question that you can re-engage back to them that can shift the energy and change the direction of the conversation.
  3. Stay Away. This one is simple and it only works if you know in advance. If you know them, stay away. Just don’t go to them. If you do go to them or run into them, then know you need to be able to get out quick.  Know that you’re going to say “Hi” and get out quickly or pass them by on purpose saying “Hey, how you doing?” and keep walking. Avoiding them can be hard, sometimes its easier to hit them straight on, get them out of the way and then enjoy the rest of the event instead of working to avoid them for the whole event.  Or the other tactic you can use is what we talked about in the first tip – the Get out of the conversation tip.  Going over to them, say Hi and then very quickly say:  “Hey its great to catch up with you, we always seem to run into each other so I’m going to go meet some people I don’t know, but I’m sure I’ll see you soon.”

So, after every one of our events, we follow with the guests, check in how they’ve enjoyed the event, what they’ve got out of it and get any feedback of them. We are continually endeavoring to raise the bar in everything we do.   I don’t know any other networking organization that does that.  Anyway, one of the feedback comments we consistently get, after every single breakfast is the quality of people in the room and that we have created a real inviting feeling that every guest has. Our regulars welcome guests, are genuinely interested in them and look after them. So, they come, they are welcomed and they are amazed by the top quality businesses that are always at the events.  Its no surprise for us, because we don’t let ‘dodgy’ businesses into our events. My recommendation is attend one of those events that has top quality people in attendance, an event that you are welcomed at and one that has great energy.

So, what I’d like to do right now, is if you haven’t been to one of our breakfasts, I’d like to invite you to come along to our next breakfast. Just jump on the link below and check out which breakfast works best for you. Come along and make sure you head over and say G’day to me. That’s all the time I’ve got for, so I hope you never get dumped, trashed or get that used feeling at a networking event ever again, I hope these tips have helped you. Edward Plant signing off from The Business League.

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