Intentional networking event party crashers are observable and avoidable.
Intentional networking event party crashers see all meeting attendees as prospects. These warm bodies are prey. They represent making some part of quarterly quota.
Intentional networking event party crashers have one objective: meet, greet and look important in the process. They are indiscriminate subscribers to the “it’s a numbers game” school of sales and marketing.
Intentional networking event party crashers continually work the room, handing out business cards and delivering mindless and seemingly endless spiel. They take up people’s time. They can suck the lifeblood out of a networking event.
Companies who ignore training their employees on how to behave at networking events and meetings do themselves and their employees a disservice. Their brand is at stake. So is their employee’s professional growth. Their actions are turning off other meeting attendees.
Elitist networking event attendees make others feel like they are crashing their private party.
The flip side of the coin is that painful scenario we’ve all experienced at one time or another. We attend a networking event. Before we walk in, we already feel like we are crashing somebody else’s special little party. We are made to feel like we are on the outside looking in.
We walk into the networking event looking for a familiar (or at least a friendly-looking) face. We walk by colleagues who give us “that” withering look which translates to: “What are you doing here, at our party?”
Or we attend a highly specific, annual professional meeting. We look forward to seeing everyone. Except meeting attendees are sequestered with their groups, their cliques, their peeps. Apparently, there is no room for us at their tables. Clearly, we are crashing their exclusive party. We thought we “belonged.” Our observations tell us otherwise.
Continuously re-evaluate the business value of attending this type of networking event. Is there some pressing reason for us to see and be seen? If not, the event may have become a complete waste of time: we are at a different place than we used to be.
The majority of unintentional networking event party crashers are uncomfortable.
Most folks attending networking events are uncomfortable with the dynamics of the room. If there is a presentation, they can’t wait for the social hour to be finished. They want to hide in the dark in their seats and listen. They make a hasty exit as soon as the presentation is over.
Quite honestly, when hosting a networking event, it is up to the sponsors to assure that every attendee is welcomed, looked after and made to feel comfortable. Most frequently, event sponsors fail attendees at “hello”.
When deciding to attend a meeting, get a game plan together. Avoid feeling like networking event party crashers any more.
- Have a buddy system. Attend with another person to talk to. In deciding to attend the event, determine whether past experiences have fueled hesitancy to attend the meeting.
- Create an agenda. Identify any attendees or speakers of interest. Connecting during a networking event isn’t optimal. Contact these individuals before the event and indicate interest. At the event, provide them with a business card so they connect a name and face. Contact them the next day and request an appointment.
- Have an exit strategy. If the meeting is a disaster, or not as-advertised, walk out. We all have that prerogative. If meeting sponsors observe attendee evacuation, they realize they are off-target. Perhaps that signal is the reason that association has difficulty attracting new members.
Unintentional networking event party crashers must be painfully honest with themselves. Are they continuing past behavior by persisting in attending professional events that only make them feel inadequate?
Please wise up to the dynamics of the crowds we choose to hang out with. Why keep doing the same things and hoping for different results? We all have complete ownership of this situation.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a management strategist, professional development coach, analyst, author and story-teller. Is it time for a career tune-up? Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.
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