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The Networker #6: The One Thing To NOT Take Networking

15 Feb, 2023
Read time: 4 minutes

Business cards, check.

A pen for notes, check.

Positive attitude, check.

There’s a lot of talk about what to take to a networking event.

But rarely about what not to take.

Today, I’m focusing on one thing you can leave behind.

Your ego.

And how doing so turns your conversations from a battle of the bravado’s – to ones that are more meaningful and supportive.

Let’s dive in.

I bet I can predict something you hear at every networking event you go to.

And something you are guilty of yourself.

I have been.

That’s what seems to be the automated response to the question; “How is business?”

Cue a reply like; “I’m crazy busy…couldn’t be busier…absolutely manic.”

Sound familiar?

If guilty of this, you’re not helping yourself.

It’s time to drop your ego.

If on the receiving end, there’s ways you can help.


People don’t want to hear how busy you are.

Or how you’re drowning in new business.

Let alone the record month, quarter or year you’ve recently recorded.

Seriously though, good for you. Bloody fantastic. But save it.

If you’re prone to slipping into this default response, here’s the impact it’s having.

Here’s what people really hear.

When someone responds in this way, I immediately think;

    • “Why are you here then?”
    • “Not sure I can help you, or that you need help.”
    • “Doesn’t sound like you need the business!”

To the point where I’ve almost removed that question from my repertoire as the response is so common.

(I keep the 6 questions I shared in edition #4 up my sleeve instead 😉).

But here’s what I’d prefer to hear.

A bit of humility, vulnerability, and honesty.

Something like:

    • “I am busy – but working through a couple of challenges currently on X.”
    • “Genuinely am quite busy – but am looking for support or help with X.”
    • “Could be busier – business has slowed down in this area.”
    • “Pretty quiet at the moment – have capacity to take on new clients in the X industry.”
    • “It’s ok – we’re looking to grow with this service/product in the business.”

Immediately, it opens up the conversation.

I can start to consider ways I can help or offer any insights.

Or if you are busy (gold star for networking at a time when many think they don’t need to) – be specific and share what you’re busy working on.

This could help them help you seek out more of that.

But people are so much more inclined to engage when you show humility and reveal a problem they might be able to help with.

So, next time you catch yourself about to tell someone how incredibly busy you are. Think, will they be able to help you with that information?

Or try this at your next event.

When someone asks how you’re doing, share a challenge. Or at least an honest assessment.

Rather than trying to paint a picture of positivity for the sake of the conversation.

It could be a supplier issue. Or sales are slow. Or an issue with a staff member.

You’ll likely find the person you’re talking to will offer advice or share something about themselves.
You never know, they may even have the same problem as you!

Regardless, you’ll soon realise, that being open is what makes you come across as human and open to connect.

And if you come up against someone that responds that way, it may be them in that default mode.

Help them out.

Use a three word follow up question that immediately opens the conversation up.

Ask them; “In what way?”

Works every-time. You find out what’s keeping them busy (or not so busy) and gives you something to work with to probe further.

It serves as reminder – people at networking events are there for the same reason.

Trying to seek out new opportunities. Trying to grow their businesses.

Help each other achieve that.

Because believe it or not, people want to know how they can help you.

Give them a chance.

And level up your conversation in the process.

Start by leaving your ego at the door.

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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