I recently attended a networking function for the Leader Impact Group.  What an amazing group of people with a vision of finding purpose through success!  Most everyone in attendance was warm, caring, interesting, interested and attentive.  Wow!  What a combination!  They were natural networkers!

Rarely, have I seen so many positive and like-minded people in one room. It was truly an amazing experience!

I’ve been to many networking functions that seemed a circus with every preposterous performer or cockeyed caricature carrying on calamitously – oblivious to anything, but their own puerile purposes.

Some even think it’s a game – he who rounds the bases fastest, and meets the most people – wins.  But that’s all they win, because people who don’t “get” networking, don’t usually “get” much business either.

There are 3 distinct classes of networkers.

The Newbie Networker:

  • is inexperienced and not quite sure how to fit in.
  • has not practiced and does not usually have the elevator speech perfected.
  • is often shy, uncomfortable, and awkward.
  • may think that everyone or no one is a prospect.
  • does not have to be someone new to business. Many long-time business owners and executives have not mastered the art of networking naturally.
  • may share some of the same qualities and habits of the Nuisance Networker,  but this is usually attributed to being an unsophisticated tenderfoot, rather than a belligerent buffoon.

The Nuisance Networker:

  • thinks that everyone is a prospect and pursues everyone aggressively and relentlessly.
  • will interrupt your conversation and will abruptly leap into a 50 second infomercial about their business and all they have to offer.  They also laugh at their own jokes and provide their own applause when none is forthcoming.
  • will talk over you, even when you try to get a word in edgewise.  Anything you say will be turned around and they will make it about them.
  • does not listen or care what you have to say. They are there for one reason only. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a clue – It’s not YOU!
  • will hand out cards to absolutely everyone.  They believe their services must play an essential role in your success no matter what your business is or whether you are interested or not.
  • often stands too close and is oblivious to your discomfort.  Distressingly, they also seem not to notice when you jerk back, dramatically dabbing at your face, in an attempt  to dry the spittle they, less than ceremoniously, sprayed over you.
  • will be looking around the room eying  the next target, while prattling on endlessly about how wonderful they are.
  • does not notice your disinterest, or that you have gone to your “happy place” whilst waiting for them to stop their abysmal blathering.
  • usually starts all sentences with the word “I.”

It may easily come to pass that a vain man may become proud and imagine himself pleasing to all when he is in reality a universal nuisance.

~ Baruch Spinoza

Sound familiar? Let’s hope it doesn’t come to mind for others when they think of you!

And at last, we come to the Natural Networker – those like Janet Callaway. The guy or gal who who just “gets” it. Maybe they come by it naturally, or maybe they have honed their skills and learned what works. Either way, these are the people who are pleasure to encounter. They are the ones you want to do business with, and who you’re happy to give referrals.

The Natural Networker:

  • is engaging, authentic and always gracious. They always make a good impression!
  • will approach, smile, wait to be addressed, or wait for an appropriate moment to add something interesting and relevant.
  • will notice another’s discomfort and will go out of their way to put them at ease.
  • is genuinely attentive. They will talk to you and ask questions in an effort to honestly get to know you better.
  • listens, and will offer assistance or suggestions if they can help in any way.  They will help connect you with other’s that may be able to help you, or that you may be able to help.
  • is savvy and understands the “Art of the Woo.” They know when and how to deliver a perfectly crafted elevator speech, without making it sound like a pitch.
  •  notices if your eyes are glazing over ,and will adapt to keep you interested.  They can also tell when their time is up and will move on politely and accordingly.
  • knows that networking is about relationships and not just about making a sale.
  • will always follow up with gratitude for having met you.
  • is always MEMORABLE!

Whatever your goal or style, just remember this one simple rule, and you’ll rarely go wrong…

They’ll never forget how you made them feel!

It really is that easy!

So, what kind of networker are you?

Has your style changed over time?

How would you handle a nuisance networker?

24 Responses to Are You A Nuisance Networker?

  1. Shelley, aloha. WOW! To say you made my day is an understatement. Thank you so much for your kind words.

    Your descriptions of the various types of networkers are spot on.  Since the Newbie Networker is learning a new skill, it’s not so surprising that they display the traits you mention.

    Now the Nuisance Networker is another story.  Either the Nuisance Networker was given some very bad advice as to how to Network or the Nuisance Networker doesn’t listen to good advice or a combination thereof.

    Shelley, when people read this I hope they make the appropriate adjustments if they find themselves in either of the first two categories.  Again, thank you so much of this wonderful reference.

    Wishing you a glorious day.  Aloha. Janet

  2. Burl Walker says:

    Great post! While I would like to think that I am in the “Natural Networker” group, I know that sometimes I am still in the “Newbie” group. You did such a great job laying it all out! Thanks for your observations that will definitely help me and many others succeed in what we do.

    • Hi Burl,  I think it’s easy to waffle some days or even in a moment. I still occasionally do too, usually when I’m somewhere I may not want to be. But that’s mindset and attitude!

        I’ve watched my students over the years and thought putting this together might help them. Reminders can help us all. But watching our audience works too! Thanks for stopping by.  Nice to be connected.

  3. Nice work Shelley!

    I really like how you have made the clear distinctions between
    the various types while providing very valuable “dos and don’ts”.

    Aspiring to be a “Natural Networker” – seems like a nice
    2012 personal objective………

    • Thanks Mark! There’s room for improvement for all of us! Don’t think it will be difficult for you to reach your objective. It seems to me you already embody many of these key qualities!

  4. Shelley,

    What an informative post. I think you really broke these down perfectly. You are sure a great observer. 🙂 

    I use to be soooo shy that I could never go into a room of people without wanting to hide in the corner. In fact, that is what I often did. Thankfully, I have come out of my shell and discovered that we are all in this together and we each have amazing gifts to discover–others as well as myself. 

    I went to my first networking group a couple of years ago and people were so amazed that it was my first one. Maybe they were just being nice? Whatever the case, whenever I go to an formal networking group or an event like IMS or another large event that is great for networking, I go in with the attitude of “what can I learn from someone else” and  hope to meet at least one person that I really click with. I love people and interacting…so these events are always fun–even though, I feel that I still am in the Newbie group at times. 

    I agree with what you stated about Janet Callaway. I spoke with her yesterday on the phone and she was absolutely kind, gracious and I swear I could feel her smiling. She is a welcoming and inviting person. 🙂 We could all learn from her networking style…she is a natural. 🙂 

    Thanks for an informative post, Shelley! I will be visiting this again before my next networking event. 🙂


    • Thanks Joanne!  I can understand why people would think you are a natural. You would definitely make others feel at ease and you are an excellent listener! Your willingness to help others makes you stand out and definitely makes people want to be around you.

      I think we’ve all likely made some of these errors, but that’s what personal growth and development are all about.  Awareness is so important. When we can identify areas of improvement we are one step closer to reaching our goals!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This was a phenomenal read,  Shelley! 

    While I have yet to have the opportunity of late to be apart of an networking experience; I have for them most part been able to shine as being a natural… sometimes anyway. 

    I still have my moments where I can be very shy and just listen to the group discussion. Especially if there are one or more Nuisance Networker’s among the group. I find this type of personality to be a bit annoying, I mus admit. To the point that I avoid them and the group that they’re apart of at all cost. 

    This doesn’t always work for my benefit though, because what happens is while they’re soaking up all the time with everyone and having what I’d like to call the “Hey, Loook at MEEEEE!” temper tantrum; I will usually go and get me a danish and a cup of coffee until their energy runs out or their battery dies; whichever comes first. 😀 

    I’m not a very competitive person and certainly wouldn’t do well in any type of industry where I would need to be. I sold cars for two months after my stint in the Navy, and it was the worst job I’ve had in my entire life. Hence, the reason most of my past occupations have been where I can be on a one on one with the customer or customer’s (i.e. Reservationist, Flight Attendant, and Hair Stylist). Each of these I tended to shine in. 

    Great post, my friend! Informative and so very true!  🙂 

    • Wow! You have certainly had very diverse experience! I agree, the Nuisance Networkers are not worth trying to talk over.  A great time to get a danish and a coffee! It’s great that you recognise the opportunities that make you feel the most comfortable.  Not everyone is built for aggressive sales. It is easy to see that you would shine in one-on-one customer service. But then to me you shone brightly ALL the time. : )

  6. Joe Bunting says:

    Great post, Shelley. I think I’m on the newb side of networking, but moving toward natural (hopefully). What I’d like to do the next time I go to a networking event is to challenge myself to help as many people as I can. Thanks for helping us think through this. 🙂

  7. brian miller says:

    def very practical…this is quality over quantitiy as well..some think it is the number of people you network with but the depth of each is so shallow what have you really accomplished?

  8. definitely a wise post here, smiles.


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  9. Shelley, I don’t know if you linked to dVerse this week–there are so many links and screen names, picking people out can get hard–but I wanted to thank you for your kind and generous remarks on my poem, and let you know they were much appreciated. Also, this is an interesting article–enjoyed it.

  10. Tim Houston says:

    Great article!  Your description of the Nuisance Networkers are similar to those profiled in my book, The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned By The Best From The Absolute Worst, (available in bookstores in the US and worldwide on Amazon.com in print and as an ebook).

    Let me add that great networkers (Natural Networkers) understand that networking is all about creating new and enhancing existing relationships through a process of engagement, without regard or expecting anything in return.  It’s not about keeping score.   Great/Natural networkers approach their networking efforts with the attitude and mindset of “How can I help you?”  They build relationships by helping others to achieve their goals.   They are connectors who build bridges and deepen relationships whereas The World’s Worst Networkers/Nuisance Networkers through ignorance and/or arrogance end up burning bridges and isolate others.

    Networking has been viewed very differently over the last 30 years.  In the 1980s it was viewed as a “fad” and something done by “the old boy’s club”.   Today, networking is critical to a business’ survival, let alone career advancement and has become a part of our personal lives with the advent of social networking.  Unfortunately, some people (Nuisance Networkers/World’s Worst Networkers)  confuse networking with selling, which are two mutually exclusive, yet supportive processes and networking gets a really unfair, bad reputation as being something that is self-serving. 

    Keep up the great work and the discussion!

  11. Mila Araujo says:

    @letmemoveyou:twitter  Shelley, I love how you’ve taken the time to write about some of your experiences here and outline some of the very appealing qualities of natural networkers, as well as some of the challenges that new networkers face. I think all around its always best to just be yourself. If you do this, I think you will naturally flow and avoid some of the less favorable qualities outlined above. Unfortunately, I think people who are just totally sales oriented and who don’t care, simply will not be able to fake being genuine – hence the nuisance networker . Part of offering a good service is understanding the prospect or client, when you truly understand a person’s needs or questions, this is the only time you can 1. assess if you can help them 2. whether your services are right for them 3. establish a true relationship.  I think like attracts like, and this is a good thing because when the natural networker goes out there, they will find very cool people, and more important than simply business, make friends, find like minds, find people to talk with who share values – if this leads to business – Great! If it doesn’t, you win anyway because you’ve found a friend, a collaborator,  and someone to inspire you.  I love these events because I feel like they create like a think tank environment, I am always learning, thats where all the value is for me. That’s also how I feel about all the friends I have met – inspired and if by chance I can help them with my services one day, fantastic – but there is so much more to be gained if you just listen to people and be present. 

  12. What fabulous insight, Shelley.
    I do very little networking… so I really appreciate that you have pointed out that newbie networkers are not always new business owners! After 9 wonderful years as a business owner I still tend to shy away from networking events, mostly because I so dislike that pushy networker archetype. 

    Because of my inexperience networking, those are exactly the same people that I end up nodding to all day long. I feel rude not listening to those people go on and on, and I am always so worried that I will sound like them (nightmare) when I explain my business, that I tend to sell myself short. 

    Do you think this is this a practice makes perfect thing? I’m not a shy person in other social situations, but I am so self-aware in a networking event that it feels like high-school all over again! Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  13. […] “That sounds like a great cause to support. I’ll bring a few customers and we’ll take a foursome. Sounds like it’ll be fun!” diffused, Len, the tablemate. Clearly a Natural Networker! […]

  14. Thanks for this great post, Shelley.  I find that the over-exuberant networker  is the person I most want to avoid at networking events. You’ve given some great advice here. Well done! — Dr. Laura Hills, President, Blue Pencil Institute

    • Thanks, Laura. I completely agree. The a little exhuberant, maybe… but when they pass the boundary to buffoonery, I’m running the other way!

      Thanks for popping in for a visit. : )

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