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.

My good friend Jennifer Leake really gets this.  In her blog post Networking to Attract Business – Not Make a Sale, she talks about a recent networking adventure and outlines the objectives she had for the event.  She was looking for 3 categories of prospects.

    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.

She was very clear in her objectives.  This makes it easy for her to find and get to know the right people.  Notice I said, “get to know” not “sell to”.

She mentioned some key learning points in her article that will help you when networking.

    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 request a free copy of  my ebook Connecting Your Way to New Business or 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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