The Networker #5: The Two Types of Networkers You Meet Networking
We’ve all been there, right?
How good does this feel when networking:
Walking away from a conversation at an event feeling buoyant, energised and motivated.
Thinking that person was great to be around. You’re charged up, full of energy, you can’t wait for next time.
But I bet you’ve been here too.
Leaving a conversation feeling flat, uninspired, sapped of your energy.
Thinking that you couldn’t wait to leave the conversation. Feeling drained.
Ever thought why that might be?
It comes down to two different personality types in social interactions.
That I refer to as; ‘Battery Chargers’ and ‘Battery Drainers’.
In today’s edition, I’ll unpack the differences, what to look out for, and how to be more of a charger than a drainer.
Making you the person people look out for on the guest list or when they walk into the room.
Let’s get plugged in.
Networking has a stigma attached to it that it’s dull and stale.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You can turn it from something you might look at in your calendar and roll your eyes at.
To something you look forward to.
By being more aware of the people you surround yourself with.
Often considered at the start a networkers journey is; “where can I get the most amount of business?”
Whilst I can’t argue with the logic, the approach that follows is flawed.
The focus becomes on chasing the business, going from event to event, and group to group.
Instead, try shifting it to; “Who am I spending my time with?”
Or more specifically; “Am I spending my time with people that are ‘battery chargers’ or ‘battery drainers’?”
And I’ve noticed there are traits both have you can live by and avoid.
The best part? This can apply to any networker, regardless of position, seniority, or experience.
When you notice it, it makes you much more aware of the people you want to be around.
Because don’t you want to network with people that give you energy, lift you up, and you enjoy being around?
So, what’s the difference?
Think back to a time you’ve been at a networking event, or any social gathering for that matter.
You leave thinking; “that person was great to be around, I really enjoyed their company.”
You’ve likely been around a battery charger.
With battery chargers – you leave feeling energised, inspired, motivated, happier, and you want to be around them.
In conversation, you find yourself more animated, expressive, and generally smiling more.
You feel yourself being charged up.
At networking, they tend to demonstrate these traits:
- Ask questions
- Be positive and see the upside
- Offer advice, ideas and share value
- Bring others into conversations
- Listen and make you feel heard
- Are curious and show genuine interest
- Celebrate the success of others
- Find ways to lift others
- Kind and considerate
Close your eyes and picture this kind of person. Does someone come to mind?
I can think of a handful of people immediately.
These are the sort of people you want to be around. And those you look forward to being around.
They are the sort of people you see on an event guest list and immediately think it’d be good to see them.
Or you see them as you walk into a room and head straight towards.
Compared to the opposite…
Battery drainers, on the other hand, are individuals who drain the energy of others with their negative attitude, complaints, or outlook.
You feel the life being sucked out of you.
You’re resisting the urge to look around to find another conversation or someone that could save you.
Counting down the seconds before you can excuse yourself and move on.
Or start thinking of excuses to leave the conversation.
You look down and your coffee cup is full. You’ve been to the toilet. Fake phone call?
You eventually leave feeling drained and demotivated after your interaction. And thankful you’re finally out of the conversation.
Why is that? What do you need to look out for?
Battery drainers often:
- Talk more than they listen
- Don’t ask questions
- Quick to complain, moan, or critisise
- See the downside
- Listen to reply – not understand
- Think ‘what’s in it for me’
- Show no interest and make it about them
- Take more than give
- Try to get ‘one up’ (if you’ve been to Tenerife, they’ve been to ‘Elevenerife’)
If you’re on the receiving end of this. Sound the alarm.
Excuse yourself politely and get out of that conversation now.
Some of those traits are more obvious to spot than others.
You may have even identified ones you often slip into. That’s ok, being aware of them and changing it is part of the process.
The good news is, that can change.
How To Be More Charger Than Drainer
I’m not suggesting you have to go into every event as the most charismatic, energetic, or inspiring person.
There are simple ways to act, or considerations to be aware of to be more charger than drainer.
It involves making conscious efforts to shift your mindset and behaviour when networking.
You are a walking billboard for your business when networking.
And how you project yourself is a representation of your brand.
Here are a few considerations:
- Take a genuine interest in others. Ask questions and lead with curiosity. You never know what they’ve done, what they’re into, or who they know. Instead of making conversations about you, ask questions about them and show genuine interest in their business and lives.
- Avoid complaining. Resist. The. Urge. Even if it’s pouring outside, or the traffic was bad, find ways to focus on something positive. These negative behaviours drain the energy of others and leave a negative impact. Including criticising and gossiping too. Leave it at home or the office.
- Listen to understand, not reply. You were given one mouth and two ears. Don’t forget to use the latter. Good networking isn’t just about your exercising your speaking skills, but your listening skills too. Actively listening makes others feel heard. That charges them up.
- Root for others. With genuine curiosity, find out about what others are working on, what’s exciting them, and getting them charged up. Offer encouragement whenever you can. Celebrate their successes. Positivity breeds positivity.
- Leave value. Suggest a relevant podcast, book or article. Offer some advice (if appropriate). Make an introduction. Recommend another event or group to check out. Make your interaction a worthwhile, valuable, and memorable one.
- Bring others into conversations. Facilitate introductions between other guests you feel could benefit from knowing each other. Bring them into your conversation. Often people are hesitant to join a conversation midway through. This has two benefits, it charges the people you introduce, and feels great for you. Win win!
- Be kind. Simple, effective, costs nothing. On the surface at networking events, everyone is doing well. But you never know what people are going through. If all else fails – kindness always wins.
If you’re in a network with battery drainers, you’ll always have one side giving and one side taking. It’s exhausting.
If people you meet don’t reciprocate – congratulations – you’ve identified a battery drainer!
Next time you’re walking into a networking event or joining a conversation, ask yourself; are you going to charge people’s batteries? Or drain them?
When you can, be a battery charger, and surround yourself with other chargers.
While you might be able to push away all battery drainers, you can be more deliberate in surrounding yourself with battery chargers.
And I remember the battery chargers in my network.
I’ll leave you with the famous quote from Maya Angelo:
“People don’t remember what you said or what you do. But they remember how you made them feel.”
Leave them feeling charged.
Go and charge up your networking and relationships.
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