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Lessons in Networking: The Ultimate No-No
By Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach

Networking is a great way to get your business and your name known, find new potential strategic partners, and to surface some prospects. But networking isn't just about finding prospects. You know that, and I know that. Pretty much everyone in business knows that, right?


I was at a business networking event last night, ready to meet lots of new people to add to my ever-growing network of colleagues, clients, alliance partners, prospects, and contacts.

I spoke to another marketing professional, and we chatted about getting together so that we could refer to each other. (Hey, not every person who wants marketing help wants to work with ME, so I like to have a few good marketing experts in my network to whom I can refer with confidence.)

I traded jokes and business cards with a charming husband-and-wife life insurance sales team. I have a great relationship with my own insurance guy, but he isn't right for everyone, so I was happy to spend a few minutes getting to know these two nice people. I will definitely send business their way.

And then I was approached by one of the smiling hosts of the networking event. She asked me what I do (although I got the feeling that she didn't listen to my response), and asked me for my card.

Then she asked me if I had heard of a certain type of make up and skin care line that is sold exclusively through personal sales reps. I said yes, and mentioned that I was wearing a lipstick from that line at that very moment.

Her smile turned into pursed lips, and a crease appeared between her eyebrows as she looked at me for a moment. Then she (rather abruptly) asked the name of my sales rep.

You probably won't believe this, but she returned my business card to me, because (and I'm just paraphrasing here) she had no reason to keep it if I was already working with a competitor.

No interest in finding out whether I might have anything to offer HER.

No interest in asking if I knew anyone who meets her ideal client profile (and who may not want to work with my sales rep, because of location, age, personality, or whatever reason).

No interest in getting to know me, period, because she saw no immediate sales potential in me.

I don't think I need a crystal ball to predict that this woman is not going to win the "Networker of the Year" award. And she isn't doing her business any favors, either.

Because networking isn't about making sales or setting up sales appointments on the spot -- it's about developing relationships. It's about becoming known, liked, and trusted.

It is not about what I will buy from you right now, or what you will buy from me tomorrow, it is about adding resources to our business tool boxes. And those resources are so much more than just one-time sales (and they certainly contribute to sales); they are intangibles like support, referrals, suggestions, introductions, tips, information, mentoring, advice, and alliances.

The bottom line is this: The value of networking isn't in the potential of an on-the-spot sale -- it's the relationship.

The woman who returned my card saw no value in knowing me. She had no idea how very many people I know, how open I was to referring to her, and how access to my network could help her build her business. And now, she will never find out.

That's a networking lesson worth learning.

About the author
Veronika (Ronnie) Noize, the Marketing Coach, is a successful Vancouver, WA-based entrepreneur, author, speaker, and coach who helps small businesses attract more clients and double their business in just 30 minutes a day. Ronnie's web site is a comprehensive resource with free articles and valuable marketing tools for small office/home office business professionals. Visit her web site at, or call her at 360-882-1298.

Lessons in Networking: The Ultimate No-No 2005 Veronika Noize.  All rights reserved

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"I help small businesses attract more clients."
~Veronika Noize, the Virtual Marketing Coach

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