Networking events can be a valuable occasion to increase our connections and leverage our personal brand, or a devastating anti-marketing strategy that will only make us look bad and make others less likely to do business with us.

Like anything in life, it depends on how we are perceived by others.

In other words, it’s mostly up to us.

As casual and basic as networking events can be, it can also be a laboratory for social experiments and learnings, for all of us. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today.

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My networking story takes place on a Thursday evening, and like any other Thursday here in Adelaide, we’ve got plenty of options. Bars, pubs, invites from friends, you name it.

But on this particular Thursday, one of our business partners had organised a networking event in the building for that evening and I was invited to take part in it. I wasn’t very convinced I should stay back for the event, despite the good selection of wines these guys always offer.

As I was writing my last email of the day and gathering my things, I could see from my window people starting to gather at the entrance of the building.

Things were about to kick off.

Fast forward 15 minutes and people were clinking glasses, having a good time and treating each other as though they were long-time friends, despite the fact that they had just met. And I was one of those people!

That’s right, I’d thrown in the towel and decided to stay. Perhaps for the wine, or maybe because I’ve always been interested in people, so I tend to like these occasions.

That night, I was talking in a group of 5 people. All entrepreneurs. My type of people. But then, another person joined our group. This guy glued on me and insisted I needed to have a look at this App supposedly built by him and, according to him, ideal for my business.

I’d like to share 3 insights from that approach.

  1. That guy’s timing wasn’t well thought out. He interrupted us right in the moment the conversation was flowing seamlessly and I wasn’t very interested in being taken out of that chat.
  2. We didn’t have time to get to know each other, so there was no trust established.
  3. He didn’t bother asking me questions to understand more about my business, our purpose or the business model. He knew I worked in Communications but that was about it. So how could he know his App was ideal for my business?

I nicely listened to him but then moved on towards the wine table to fill up my glass. After I got away from him, I got back to the same group. We ended up exchanging business cards and adding each other on Linkedin.

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By the way – highly recommend Linkedin’s QR code functionality.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we meet up again at some other social occasion and even do business with each other once we know more about each other’s businesses.

Only time will tell.

As for the other guy, I wish him well.

So here’s the takeaway from this situation: Hastiness and bad timing make people miss opportunities every single day. It can even make people suspect the product or service you’re pushing isn’t that great. Interesting people, top notch products and brilliant ideas don’t need to be pushed down anybody’s throat. It’s quite the opposite – people gravitate towards it. But we need to allow time and space for that to happen.

Tony Bulmer would go one step further and plant another seed on our minds. And I recommend you to take his advice. After all, he’s highly regarded as one of the best communication coaches in the world.


Leave a comment below if you would add more principles or tools to this context.

And thanks for reading.