Maybe you’re “selling” your potential referral sources and not networking with them. In a networking scenario, it’s inappropriate to look at people as prospects rather than potential referral sources.
I was part of a networking group years ago. Scott was the president of the group and he had a number of people on his board. I joined the group and wanted to meet one by one with the board members. In the spirit of networking, I thought this would be the best way to learn about the group and their respective businesses and to see if, over time, I could help them in any way.
I scheduled a one-on-one meeting with Scott and clearly outlined that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss how we could help one another. We sat down and he started laying paperwork out on the table. I was thinking, “Okay, this guy is very organized.” Next thing you know, he pulls out brochures and important looking documents (with his company name on them) and starts to sell me on all of his products and services – complete with sales pitch! This was supposed to be a networking meeting set up to discuss our respective businesses, talk about where we wanted to go, see how we might help one another and talk about the networking group. Instead, Scott made the meeting about Scott.
There was no choice. I had to end the meeting and I assertively told him, “Look, Scott, I have to be direct with you. I thought it was clear that this was supposed to be a networking meeting. The appointment was not made for you to try to sell me stuff I don’t need or want. (By the way, the stuff was life insurance.) Not only is what you did a waste of my time; it’s inappropriate.”
Networking is all about meeting new people and building relationships with those you already know. When you are effectively networking, your focus is learning about those you meet and potentially referring business to them business when the time is right.
Just leave the fact finders home!