5 Signs of a Networking Slug—And What to do Instead
They’re pushy and disrespectful of your time, just to name a couple signs of Networking Slugs. Make sure nobody can accuse you of Networking Slug behavior with these alternative approaches.
I hate Networking Slugs—I really do. And so should you. They typically create negative first impressions at networking events by doing lots of dumb things. They probably didn’t plan to behave like Slugs and what they do is often out of mindless habit or lack of focus. But, the results are just as lame—and just as annoying.
Most Slugs are real amateur networkers, but not all. I’ve encountered some veteran schmoozers who elevate Slug Behavior to the level of an art form. So have you. When you see them coming, you turn and run. Or, at least, start talking to someone else.
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To help ensure no one ever accuses you of being a Networking Slug, here are five signs of Networking Slug Behavior and the Non-Slug Alternatives they—and you—should consider instead. No need to thank me–it’s my job!
Networking Slug sign No. 1: They give you their business cards up front. And of course, most of the cards wind up in the trash can on the way out of the venue. I’ve even seen Slugs going around the room passing out cards to everyone, as if they were candy we’d all enjoy. Lame. Very lame. And I’ve been known to put on my curmudgeon hat on occasion and comment ‘I don’t recall asking for your card’ just to mess with them.
Non-Slug alternative No. 1: Wait for people to ask for your card. Or, ask them if you can give them one. Wait until the end of a short conversation to initiate a possible follow-up. And ask for theirs first—that usually prompts the return request.
Networking Slug sign No. 2: They don’t respect your time. Slugs talk too much, too long, mostly about themselves and launch right into their sales pitch monologue when they call you. It’s all about them and what they’re selling, because they don’t realize—or care—that networking and selling don’t mix.
Non-Slug alternative No. 2: Don’t dominate the conversation or talk too long. Tell less and ask more. Talk less and listen more. The conversation should be more about them than you. And never mix networking with selling. When you do follow up with a call, always ask within the first few seconds, “Is this a good time for a brief follow-up chat on…?”
Networking Slug sign No. 3: They don’t interact with class and style. If they suggest a coffee meeting, they show up late, expect you to pick up the check and can’t be bothered to confirm plans. And, again, they talk too much—about themselves.
Non-Slug alternative No. 3: Send a confirming email or text the day before. Show up on time, if not early. If you initiate the meeting, always pick up the tab. Keep it short and simple, and focus on how you might be able to help each other.
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Networking Slug sign No. 4: They ask for something before they give. You’ll encounter two basic kinds of people at networking events—givers and takers. Slugs are takers—always thinking ‘what’s in it for me?’ And if you do help them, instead of a note of thanks, you usually get another request for your help. They rarely offer to return the courtesy.
Non-Slug alternative No. 4: Ask what you can do for them before asking them for anything. And when you do need to ask first, make sure you have earned the courtesy. Believe that ‘givers gain’ and ‘what goes around comes around,’ and prove it by your courteous and consistent behavior.
Networking Slug sign No. 5: They send you stuff you didn’t ask for. When following up, Slugs kill a lot of trees by sending you unwanted material that goes directly into your recycling bin. At an event, they shove brochures, resumes—even swag—in your hands without asking if you want any of it. Like they’re doing you a favor.
Non-Slug alternative No. 5: Ask what is wanted or needed up front. Then, only send or give them what they asked for. Ask when they want it and respond accordingly. If they say they don’t want anything, honor that by not sending anything. Simple as that.
• RELATED: Read more on effective communication by Phil Stella.
So, if you now realize that you hate Networking Slugs as much as I do, make sure no one can ever use that term to describe you. It’s all about networking with simple courtesy, class and style. No one will hate that!
Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication, www.communicate-confidently.com,
440 449-0356, and empowers business leaders to reduce the pain with workplace communication. A popular trainer and executive coach on writing, communication styles and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.