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The Networker #15: Improving Your Networking Conversations With ‘The Swivelling Spotlight’

19 Apr, 2023
Read time: 2 minutes & 54 seconds

Since starting The Networker, I’ve received over 100 replies to the question I ask all subscribers; what’s your biggest challenge with networking?

Over 30% of responses include a variation of ‘being sold to’.

Which is the leading reason the word ‘networking’ has a negative stigma attached to it.

Introducing the ‘swivelling spotlight’ concept.

A concept I learned from Leil Lowndes book ‘How to Talk to Anyone’ (one of my 7 books to supercharge your networking).

And how implementing it into your conversations at networking will turn them from a barrage of pitches, to more inclusive, beneficial, and enjoyable.

To learn for yourself, or pass on to guilty networkers.

Too often networking is viewed as just attending an event.


Like a sandwich, you only truly pay attention to what’s in it.

Less what’s holding it all together.

But a sandwich doesn’t work unless you have the bread on the outside.

And this is the same with networking.

Without doing the work before and after the event, you’re leaving so much on the table.

Like many, I’ve been victim too.

Recently, in conversation at an event with a guest, we were approached.

A few minutes later (it felt like hours) this person had proceeded to introduce themselves, go on a rampage to tell us everything they do, followed by the whipping out of a business card to offer (more forced upon) us that would put John Wayne pulling his pistol from the hip to shame.

Then ask if it’s something we’d be interested in.

Yes, please, send me the invoice! Where do I sign?!

The icing on the cake?

All this was BEFORE they’d asked us a single question. Not even our names.

Yes, really.

And a little part of me dies every time I hear stories of this. Let alone experience it first hand.

Because it’s all too common. Evident from responses I’ve gotten from Networkers (thank you).

If this is you, please help yourself. And stop.

It has the opposite effect you think it does.

Others don’t leave feeling grateful for suddenly knowing everything about your business.

They leave feeling unheard and that you weren’t interested in them.

This was how I left.

And their business card then acted as a reminder of the (rather dreadful) experience.

Side note; rarely have I found offering someone a business card to be the best move. If someone wants your business card or details, they’ll ask. 

Introducing The Swivelling Spotlight

Imagine in a group conversation, there is a giant spotlight above you all. And whoever is speaking, the spotlight is pointing on them.

You want to ensure that spotlight is on others more than you.

That it’s swivelling regularly during the conversation.

And if you notice it’s on you more, take a moment to consider your approach to swivel it to shine on others.

Swivelling the spotlight can be done by:

  • Asking questions (I shared six to get you going in edition #4)
  • Challenging yourself to find out more about others
  • Leading with genuine curiosity – what has that person done in their life that’s unique
  • Finding common ground – between you or between others in the group
  • Inviting others into the conversation
  • Noticing who hasn’t had the spotlight on them – maybe they need a way in – help them
  • Diving deeper into answers with follow up questions
  • Leaving your sales pitch at the door – see how you can help

In doing so, you’ll be surprised what you can find out about others.

Mutual connections or interests. Certain needs or challenges. Ways you (or people you know) can help others.

Let alone how more inclusive, interesting, and enjoyable, your conversations will be.

Going from the ‘what’s in it for me’ approach – to ‘what can I find out about others and how can I help them’.

That coupled with a long-term focus on your networking, will come back to your in spades down the road.

The Wrap Up

It seems simple really. That I shouldn’t feel the need to write this.

But it’s experiences like mine that shows we have a long way to go.

It’s instances like this that tarnish the word ‘networking’ with the stigma it’s full of people out for themselves with little interest in others.

Thankfully, it’s not.

And it’s amazing what happens when you network to be curious and learn about others, without expecting anything in return. 

You’ll find they want to do the same.

That’s what the ‘swivelling spotlight’ helps with.

What Is The Networker?

The weekly newsletter for business owners and sales leaders to level up their networking.

1 networking tip, trend or tidbit – every Wednesday morning.

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