You’ve seen it at a networking event. Everyone’s eyes suddenly become busy gazing at the dip, pictures on the wall or anything that will prevent them from making eye contact with that person. Or, if they are caught in a conversation with them they’ll quickly make an excuse to leave.
The avoided person can literally part the crowd as they approach.
In order to make sure, you’re not the person that people would least like to network with you need to understand the undesirable traits.
The Pity Partier
Who wants to network with someone who’s wallowing in their own self-pity? You’ve heard them. Their job sucks, the boss is mean, life’s unfair, they aren’t paid enough, the rents too high, etc. All they do is moan and complain. At every turn in the conversation, they find a way to share what’s awful in their life.
There are even people who have had real tragedy in their life that continue to allow that tragedy to define them and to dominate their every conversation and interaction. In fact, that tragedy is the filter which affects how they see everything in their window into “life” and, all too often, they define what others are saying through that filter.
Action Step: According to Jack Canfield, author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, we say over 250 negative things to our self each and every day. Instead of focusing on all that’s negative in your life, make a daily list of what’s positive and what you’re grateful for. Whatever you focus on, you actually begin to notice more of in your life. Focus on the positive to be that positive person that attracts others. Even negative people repel other negative people.
In the case of a real tragedy, seek professional help. A networking event is not time for group therapy. If you try that, even subconsciously, you could end up burning bridges because you’re seeing things through a strained filter. It’s better to find someone who is trained and equipped to help you heal.
In the movie, Beaches, Bette Midler said a statement that embodies this well when she said, “But enough about me, let’s talk about you. What do you think of me?”
The Diva is stuck on one note – me, me, me, me!
They talk about their trip, their job, their money, their clothes, their spring break, their car, etc. They barely come up for enough air to continue sharing their adventures let alone let someone else speak at a networking event.
Action Step: Observe during your next networking interaction, who’s speaking the most? Who’s dominating the conversation? If it’s you, then you’re the diva.
To be a great networker, ask questions and let others speak. In fact, the person who is truly in control of the conversation and the direction of that conversation is the person asking the questions.
If you’ll listen to the responses, people will tell you everything that you need to know about them, who they are and often what motivates them.
A close cousin to the diva, the entitled are people who exhibit that they are someone who are owed something or deserve something – always.
Quite demanding they can often come across snobbish in real life interactions asking questions like, “why isn’t there coffee” or “isn’t someone going to get me a pen” or “is it me or does it just seem they’re not prepared for me?”
Online, the entitled are those folks that tweet out to the Twitterverse a complaint or a rant about an interaction or transaction.
Or, you’ll see them write on Facebook pages or even event pages on Facebook their demand.
For example, at a recent event a mom bought her son a used game on the exhibit hall. He couldn’t get it to work, at first. She immediately went to the Facebook page of the event and posted that the game didn’t work and said she bought it from a group of vendors that were in the middle of the exhibit hall and she needed someone with the event to respond to her immediately. (Why wouldn’t she just call the card of the vendor who sold it to her or the information on the receipt?)
This same person, in a networking event, will rush into a group having a conversation and say “let me steal this person away because I need to talk to her about this” or “stop talking, I need to take some selfies with you guys”. Or, their late for an event (all their fault) and they blame the ushers for not seating them or not letting them in.
If you find yourself blaming everyone for you’re being late (i.e. saying something like “they couldn’t keep the breakfast out just a minute longer?”) and expecting others to work around your lateness that is a sign that you could be “an entitled”.
Jeff Hayden provides a great description of this behavior in his article, 10 Ways to Lose Friends and Irritate People.
Action Step: Suspecting that you could be the entitled? Take a look at Jeff’s article and then make some changes to address each of those items. Set a deadline of when you’ll start working on that and start documenting so you’ll focus on that.
You’re changing a behavior and that takes time. In this case, admitting that you are “an entitled” and realizing what you’ve done to earn that title is a lot of the battle.
Every interaction is seen as a “sale”. They want to sell you, convince you, know who you know and not have a conversation or business relationship with you – they want to use you.
Action Step: Read the book “The Go-Giver”. In the book, The Go-Giver, The Law of Influence says, Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people’s interests first. The fastest way to develop know, like and trust in any relationship is to shift your focus from an “I” focus to an “other” focus.
Bob Burg, in his book Adversaries into Allies, says: Most people don’t commit to things; they commit to people. And they typically commit to people who they believe care about them.
No idea of personal space, or hygiene or an ounce of modesty, the clueless person makes other people feel uncomfortable around them. They are clueless that their dress, behavior, smell is off-putting to others.
Action Step: Prevention Magazine put out a list of items that could help you ascertain if you’re this person. The only items I would add to the list are if you have a dog or smoke to take extra precaution. These are odors that you may personally be used to and not be able to even smell or detect anymore.
And, ask someone you know, like and trust in a private setting. A close friend might let you know if you let them know that you really do want to know.