Whether you know the phrase “spray and pray” or not, you probably have experienced this phenomenon and possibly, like me, you have been guilty of doing it. When I first started promoting a group I founded over a decade ago, I whipped out a business card within seconds of meeting anyone who might remotely be interested. It took me awhile to realize this wasn’t the most effective way to network. When friends and colleagues began to talk up my group, instead of me doing all the promotion, the group really took off.
Now, I teach people how to stop wasting time networking and I have a PSA: Stop Spraying and Praying. When people tell me they don’t like networking, it’s this kind of behavior that is turning them off.
A few weeks ago, I was at a networking dinner and the guy next to me hands me a stack of his business cards and says, “Take one and pass them around the table.” I politely return the stack of cards and suggest that he chat with folks about his job first – I even suggest he can move to some of the empty chairs to initiate conversations with folks at the other end of the table.
I followed up by asking about his job – which is, no surprise, in sales. Our brief conversation is interrupted as a new person arrives and is approaching us to say hello and introduce herself. After a quick handshake she turns to walk away and the guy I was speaking with quickly hands her his business card and says his 10-second sales pitch. Someone across the table mentions she’s not his target demographic. Which he could have found out if he had spoken with her for even a moment or two.
This scenario, with different characters, repeats itself at networking events and conferences all over the world. Business cards are communication devices, what are they saying about you and your business when you’re spraying them all around the room and praying someone will respond?
I witnessed this at a Chamber event. Prior to taking my seat I was chatting with a Chamber member and after a few minutes we exchanged business cards. Seeing this, someone interrupted us to point out that we’ll all be exchanging business cards in a moment when we sit down. Wait, what? I shouldn’t do it now while having a conversation because business cards will be dealt out like a deck of cards once we’re seated?
Once we were seated, each person attending stood for 30-60 seconds and gave their pitch. As promised, a stack of their business cards was passed around the table.
Problem was, by the time I received each person’s stack, they weren’t speaking anymore and I wasn’t able to easily track who I wanted to follow-up with or what each person talked about. It felt incredibly ineffective.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. That trust isn’t based on a 30-second sales pitch.
At a different networking event, a real estate professional started a conversation by handing me his business card. He then pitched me his services and I explained I wasn’t looking to buy or sell a home. When our conversation wrapped up a few minutes later, I didn’t offer him a business card. He loitered nearby while I was speaking to someone else and when there was a slight lull in our conversation he jumped in and said, “May I have your card?” Reluctantly I handed it to him, as I knew I was about to be added to his mailing list. Which, indeed is what happened. He followed up right away with a badly formatted mail merged email template. Even though I never responded, he added me to his email list and continued to send me poorly formatted emails that I had zero interest in. After several months of this, I finally wrote him to remind him that I had not asked to be added to his email list and in fact had not been interested in his services. Ironically, we met at an event where someone was leading a networking training, yet this real estate professional did what he had always done – seeming to learn nothing from the training. If I ever need someone to help me buy or sell a home, this is not who I would want to work with. This is the flip side of spraying and praying, collecting everyone’s business card whether you had a conversation with them or not and adding them to your email list.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Adding people to an email list without their consent isn’t going to win their trust or make them like you.
I organized the networking dinner I mentioned a moment ago. The same woman who was handed a business card with a 10-second pitch for services she didn’t need, ended up asking me about my work. We chatted for a few minutes about networking angst and she learned I had a podcast about networking and leadership. A moment later she asked if I had a business card. I handed one to her, but I resisted handing one to everyone else who might have overheard our conversation. Before the dinner ended, the woman across from her asked me for my business card and had a specific idea of how we might work together.
Rather than putting one of my business cards at every place setting, I built credibility and trust by convening the networking dinner, making sure everyone was welcomed, and sharing a bit about my work without doing my pitch – and it worked. New attendees left with my business card and heard my work highly praised by a colleague.
Those relationships are still nascent and may not directly turn into business, but I don’t host networking events with the goal of lining up business after one brief encounter. I host networking events throughout the month to broaden and deepen by professional network. Over time this will lead to new clients because word of mouth praise is still the best promotion any business could ask for.
ABOUT ROBBIE: www.robbiesamuels.com/about
Business Growth Strategy Coach
Robbie coaches inspiring entrepreneurial women in their 50s and beyond (and a few awesome men) to grow their impact and income by building an audience before launching new revenue streams.
WHO YOU ARE:
You want to have a greater impact and increased income. The problem is that there are so many options for how to build your business that you can feel stuck, overwhelmed, and like you’re running out of time.
The reason options are overwhelming is that you’re looking at them as a series of disconnected steps when to make the most of your time, you need a strategy that connects only the most important and highest impact ones.
You know that if you try to do everything, you’ll accomplish nothing. This means, to achieve your goal, you have to invest in a strategy to put time on your side.
WAYS ROBBIE OFFERS SUPPORT:
As a relationship-based business growth strategist, Robbie will work with you one-on-one to design a year-long plan that consists of three 12-week sprints, each followed by 4 weeks of reflection/assessment, rejuvenation, learning, and strategic planning. This will allow you to sequence your goals, create momentum, and leverage your limited time.
Have a project that you want feedback on or need assistance with a specific strategy? He offers half-day strategy sessions.
Already selling but feeling stuck around how to increase your revenue? Sign up for a one-day mastermind with fellow entrepreneurs to break through to the next level.
Ready to dig into your network to validate a solution you’ve been working on to see if you can build an audience for it before launching? Sign up for 12 Weeks to Create Your Irresistible Offer program.
Want accountability, support, and guidance as you implement your strategic plan? Learn more about his year-long Wake Up Your Network mastermind program.
These are not right for everyone; they're personalized offerings and are priced accordingly.
WHAT MIGHT YOU WORK ON?
In his coaching work with entrepreneurs, his clients focus on the areas where they'd like to grow, which may include:
- Creating a strong sales conversation framework
- Building your referral network
- Lead generation through a relationships
- Growing your visibility in your industry
- Increasing your ability to attract the right kind of clients
- Identifying and launching a minimally viable offer
- Breaking through whatever bottleneck is holding you back from getting the results you want and deserve
- Becoming a published author and marketing your book successfully
- Improving your virtual presentation skills
LEARN MORE AND SCHEDULE A CHAT: www.robbiesamuels.com/coaching
Robbie is excited to support you in reaching or exceeding your goals.
Interested in booking Robbie to speak? At www.robbiesamuels.com/speaking you’ll find video clips and a description of his talks.
Watch his TEDx talk “Hate networking? Stop bageling and be the croissant!” at www.robbiesamuels.com/TEDx.
- Connect with Robbie on LinkedIn
- @RobbieSamuels on Twitter and Instagram
- New to his website? Start here
- On the Schmooze podcast archive – weekly since July 2016!
SIGN UP for his free weekly #NoMoreBadZoom Virtual Happy Hours – www.NoMoreBadZoom.com
Affiliate Links: Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links above are “affiliate links”. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products and services I use personally and believe will add value to my listeners. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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