Friday, October 12, 2007

Networking Death Row

I begrudgingly attended a few weeks ago a new networking organization that recently launched here in Austin. It was billed as being a "different kind of networking group" with strong focus on developing relationships rather than just leads. The invitation came from someone I know here really well and he was mainly interested in my perspective of their supposedly new core concept and ultimately their "hot offer" to join up.

I used to have a salty old dog district manager from my days with Xerox that had a saying that went something like, "You can put perfume on a pig but it's still a pig and son, pigs just plain stink." I never forgot his lesson. Just like a leopard can't change its spots, you simply can't make something appear to be something that it so obviously isn't. It was great advice and I heard it ring through my cerebral chamber more than once during this event.

It always amazes me how many eager professionals believe that thrusting a business card in your face, before even knowing who you really are, will somehow unlock King Solomon's mines of opportunity. Can you, just for a minute see the unhappy and quickly becoming miserable Steve in your mind's eye? Good job!!! This group that was so focused on being different that almost by extension of its new fangled approach promoted the same casual and assuming business prostituting that every other group does out there in the world. Just now remembering how miserable I was in their "mixer activity" almost made me throw up in my mouth a little....again!

Don't get my wrong, I really try hard not to make fun of these kinds of events. I understand that for some business people they absolutely have a purpose and a place. I also know most people who attend think they are giving their best effort to promote and grow their business. I just have a fundamental disagreement as to how they go through the motions of actually doing it.

But people I am not a cheap first date. You can't show me a flashy business card and a million dollar smile and expect my wallet or contact database to automatically open. It is soulless and I would never want to do business with, nor share opportunities with, people who go through the motions because they have to. Call me crazy but that's just me! Yay...I am a networking prude. You can say it! (SMILE)

If you have read my BLOG for any length of time you know that networking in these kinds of environments isn't how I grew, now three successful companies. But I know you might be saying to yourself, "But then why do you keep going Steve!" I think I go because I am either gluten for punishment or I do really have a screw loose.

Seriously, I keep going to these better mouse trap events and end up getting my tail caught in an endless string of 30 second elevator speeches and "so what do you do?" questions. I go because I guess I do keep hoping that someone will really do more than talk about creating a different approach and actually do it. Hmmm wait a minute...someone has, I think it's called The 8 Minute Ripple! More on our latest successful event soon.

As my friend and I got up from the table where the networking lunch portion had just ended he could tell I was ready to bolt. It might have been the Clark Kent looking for a phone booth kind of air I had about me or the fact I really needed to get out there before the heebee jeebees that I had developed started catching. Seriously, I thanked my friend for inviting me and knowing his business suggested he try it again without the Ripple Man sitting across the table from him looking like a prisoner outside the execution chamber.

My last word of advice to him was go back and join if you think it is a fit.

He passed.

Ripple On My Friends!!!

But whatever you do...

STOP NETWORKING. START CONNECTING.™

2 comments:

Tom Magness said...

Thanks Ripple Man! I just got back from a conference. I was hoping for connections and instead got...networking. I share your "heebie jeebies," brother. It's good to be home.

MagnumVox said...

HEEBEE JEEBEES indeed!!
Perhaps, in time, enough folks will realize they are skipping through the revolving door of business "as usual."