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5 Networking Stereotypes - and how to handle them

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Whoever visits networking events more often will have noticed that there are always recurring types of networkers. It may be stereotypes, but as we all know, there is always a big truth about such stereotypes. But which guys are they, how do I recognize them, deal with them? And if I find myself in the description: what should I pay attention to and what can I do better?

1. The Salesman

“I have a great idea that I must introduce to you!”

The seller has a very clear goal: to sell himself and his idea, whatever may come. He has previously informed himself which persons and contacts are important for him, he ignores all other participants. Always with business card and additional information in his pocket, he pitches his plans, sometimes unsolicited. He is very targeted, but can also quickly become penetrating.

If you meet the Salesman…
  • Listen to what he has to say, but tell him clearly and definitively if you’re not interested. Direct him to someone else who might be able to help him.
  • Only give out your contact details if you are really enthusiastic about his idea, otherwise you run the risk of receiving unsolicited “advertising” emails.
  • Don’t get involved in anything and ask for another meeting outside the event if you are honestly interested.
If you’re the Salesman…
  • Don’t sit in existing conversations when the person you want to talk to is talking to someone else.
  • Respect if someone is not interested in you & your idea.
  • Networking should always be two-sided: listen to who your counterpart is, build a relationship instead of another “sale opportunity”.

2. The Shy Guy

“I only go to networking events because I have to. I find it hard to meet new people.”

As the name suggests, the shy one is very reserved and calm. Due to his lack of self-confidence, he sometimes puts himself on the sidelines and is barely noticeable. He spends most of his time at networking events with people he already knows**. If he’s still there, because he’s leaving the event as soon as possible.

If you meet the shy guy…
  • Be friendly and start a conversation with him alone, so he doesn’t have to be afraid to speak in larger group.
  • Ask him what he does and talk about things he knows to make him feel safer.
  • If you know someone who could help him, introduce him - the first ice on both sides is already broken.
If you’re the shy guy…
  • Make yourself clear before every network meeting: what do you want to tell about yourself, what are your strengths? If necessary, write it first on a note which you can look at again unobserved.
  • Go to network meetings with a person who knows about your shyness & no problem starting conversations. It is well known that together we are less alone.

3. The card collector

“I want to gather as many contacts as possible, because that’s the only way to succeed.”

The card collector has noticed that networking is the A&O, but takes it a little too seriously. With him, Quantity before quality counts, he diligently distributes his business card and collects it from others, without worrying about which contacts could be useful for him. He has very short, superficial conversations and jumps from person to person. He is open, talkative, a real small talk king - but without an effective mission.

When you meet the card collector…
  • Imagine briefly and listen to who is standing in front of you. Don’t blame him for wanting to have superficial, brief conversations.
  • Think about who could be useful to you from the huge contact pool of the card collector, because maybe he can network you.
If you’re the card collector…
  • Formulate a concrete goal for the network meeting: don’t rush directly into the crowd, but think about who you really want to address first.
  • Take part in longer conversations and remain in the memory of others, because important contacts are usually more “fruitful” than superficial ones.

4. The narcissist

“I’m by far the most successful in the room!”

The narcissist has a high level of self-confidence and likes to talk about his successes. This means that he can act quickly like a phoney. Nevertheless, he is with all the important people in the room by yourself and achieves what he has set his mind on. He is not necessarily interested in the interests of other people, but loves to present himself.

When you meet the narcissist…
  • Don’t let yourself be dazzled or intimidated, imagine yourself self-confidently and listen to something if necessary - he will soon want to talk to an “important” person at the other end of the room anyway.
  • If you want something from him: congratulate him on his successes and ask him for advice: he will gladly talk about it and see you positively.
If you’re the narcissistic…
  • Being successful and self-confident is good, but too much of the good can quickly become unprofessional. Don’t only talk about yourself, but also take a look around you: who is my counterpart, what is his story, how can he possibly help me?
  • Show honest interest, ask questions and stay in a conversation for more than two minutes, even if you have seen an important person.

5. The perfectionist

“I know who I want to meet and I’m perfectly prepared.”

The perfectionist researches beforehand in detail who is attending the network meeting, creates profiles for specific people and prepares concrete questions. He has a clear goal and a plan for achieving it. He doesn’t waste any time for “needless” small talk and comes quickly to the point**.

If you run into the perfectionist…

If you’re not on his agenda, it’ll be harder to get in touch with him. It’s best to research in advance what kind of job he has, what makes him different, why you could work together and arouse his interest.

If you’re the perfectionist…
  • Good preparation can never do any harm, but try to free yourself from it - be spontaneous!
  • Have a seemingly “ineffective” conversation to build relationships. It is much easier to work together on a personal level.
  • Don’t let yourself get upset when you meet someone you couldn’t research in detail before. Have a nice conversation with him and ask him for a meeting e. g. one week later - so you have enough time to prepare yourself.

Further tips on networking are given by our interview partners in our video series “The Power of Networking”: .

Also interesting in this context:

“Why a strong network is crucial for success”

“Getting the best out of networking events”

In this sense: Happy Networking!


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