Networking is not Selling

It doesn’t  seem to matter how many times I say it,  there are still people out there who are selling at networking events. They are anxious to get their business card in as many hands as possible and with each conversation they are trying to sell you their product or service. We all want to run from these people as fast as humanly possible. It’s no wonder business owners don’t attend networking events.

Networking is an opportunity to meet new people, establish a rapport and begin to build a relationship. You can only do this if you are listening. It’s the fine art of conversation. You only know I am 100% engaged in our conversation when I am the one talking. While you are talking I could be thinking about 1,000 other things. So it’s your job to ask good questions and listen intently. Get to know me. If there is a connection you can get my business card and connect with me again after the event. But don’t connect with me just to sell me something, connect to further develop the relationship and see how it can be of mutual benefit and if it turns out I need what you sell, we can talk about it.

At events there are 3 categories of prospects you want to keep in mind:

    1. Sales Managers or executives with more than 3 salespeople.
    2. Key people in any business with 20 or more employees.
    3. Possible referral partners – people who worked with #1 and #2 and those who appear to be well connected in our town.

Keeping these in mind will make it easier for you to network at events (with the right people). You’ll be “getting to know them” not just “selling to them.”

Here are some key points you also need to remember:

    1. Know what you are looking for when you network.
    2. Ask questions that will help you qualify them as a prospect rather than trying to sell.
    3. Tell them you plan to call them for an appointment in the near future.
    4. Follow up immediately.

For more information on networking please email me at to schedule a free 30 minute consultation on your networking strategy.

About the Author Alice Heiman

Alice Heiman has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. Her innovative sales leadership programs, coupled with her top-down approach to creating long-term change, set up sales leaders and sales-managing business owners to get consistent and sustainable growth.

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  • Excellent advice, Alice. I would add that even after a networking event it is a good “rule of thumb” to exercise restraint and honesty. I recently attended a networking event where someone contacted me after the event and wanted to get together for coffee, under the pretense to share ideas of each others networking successes and challenges.

    Within a few minutes, I was sitting in front of a laptop computer where this person went through a 30 minute power point about the products they offer and then proceeded to try to close a sale. It was very uncomfortable and a huge waste of time.

    Networking is about building relationships – not burning bridges!

    • Alice Heiman says:

      Ugh! I am so sorry to hear that. I don’t know why people try to sell when they don’t even know if you are interested. They must not realize how damaging that behavior is. Thanks for sharing that!

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