Article originally posted to LinlkedIn on February 4th, 2021.
I hear it ALL the time. Before COVID, people would attend all sorts of "networking" type events and experience what I like to call the Sales Vomiter. They were in ANY industry, often approached you first, would then introduce themselves, followed by asking who you were and before you could respond they were already telling you how amazing their products and services are, and how they will solve all of your problems. Yea, how did you feel about that?
Let's be honest. Neither party likes that. The Sales Vomiters of the world are just doing what they were taught to do. Build rapport super fast, talk about value, your why, etc so the person is interested fast, buys, and buys right now. While that was something that may have worked in the 1970s it has not been working for some time. You can't strong arm somebody into buying immediately anymore, and it's rare that you show up at the exact time someone needs what you offer. We live in a world where data is at our finger tips and we are taught to not trust salespeople.
If anything, going full digital has shown us due to COVID, people really do value the human connection. We all want to buy, but we never want to be sold. Sales Vomiters never like feeling like a sales person. They don't like to have this reputation of being that "guy" or "gal" that everyone is already running from before anyone has had a chance to even have a conversation or get to know them. They are just learning for old ways and from people who keep saying, "Well it worked for me, it will work for you." While this does not happen 100% of the time, it is an issue, and is surely jeopardizing how we all grow and approach finding clients.
So how do you get away from this on either side? Strategic Networking.
Imagine attending an event either in-person or virtual and people can have conversations just like they would at a bar-b-que. We can talk about what interests us, what we are looking for, who we want connections to and what we need help with. Instead of only seeing a person as a money ticket, you see them as a conduit. Who do they know? Can they advocate for me? Can I advocate for them? How can we work together to expand our orbs of influence? How can they help my network and clients? How can they add value to my business and vice versa?
Imagine how this would change the DMs you are currently deleting in your LinkedIn messages, or perhaps the ones you may be sending. What could this do for your influence? Your brand? How can you send and respond in a more strategic way? How can you act more strategically?
Networking should be a multi-layered vehicle to give you as many opportunities as possible, but with zero strategy, you will ensure your networking vehicle will stay stuck in your yard rusting away.
Throw the old school salesy mentalities out the door. Be strategic, be yourself. Use the strategic networking mindset and become a networking advocate.