Article by Stacey Calder 29.02.16
Bit of a strange question isn’t it? Are you an Amateur, Poser or Professional? And you’re probably wondering what I’m on about. Let me explain. I’ve just finished writing a blog for another website about my ‘Top 3 Business books for Network Marketers’ and one of the books (GO PRO) talks about 3 types of network marketers, Amateur, Poser or Professional and it got me thinking. These 3 ‘types’ could be used to describe people In a number of settings, but one environment that really stuck in my head was networking and so I decided to write this blog.
I do a lot of networking within different networking groups as well as owning my own networking company Networking Mummies UK LTD, and I see and meet a lot of fantastic people. I also meet a few that get it wrong, some very wrong. Networking is a fantastic way to grow your networks and connections and if done correctly can raise your brand awareness and gain you valuable referrals from others. I’m a firm believer in people buy people and networking is a great way of introducing the person behind your brand.
So can networkers be broken down into these 3 categories? Let’s see!
An Amateur is someone who doesn’t understand the power of networking or what it can give their business. They might be there because their boss ‘sent them’ meaning their heart isn’t really in it. Amateurs walk into the room and judge the success of the meeting by how many people were in the room and how many business cards they have collected. They also don’t understand networking is about building relationships. Amateur networkers are easily spotted online especially on social media, as they are the ones that post links to their business or products without introduction or relevance and then disappear until their next spammy post. They believe that they are building their brand awareness and don’t realise they are giving themselves a bad name. In my experience people want to know the person behind the brand/product and not just see links dumped in front of them!
I’m pretty sure we all know a poser within our networks. These are the people that like the limelight, they make the meetings all about them. I’m not saying they are bad networkers but some people can be put off by their arrogance and end up avoiding them. Posers like to talk about themselves, their business and their journey but forget to ask others about theirs. They can often be seen putting themselves forward for any speaker slots within meetings and use gimmicks to stand out. They do get business from networking but I wonder how much they lose from people they don’t connect with. They don’t necessarily take time to learn the skills to be a successful networker and rely on their ‘charm and charisma’ to get them through, because of this posers often appear to be very successful and for a while appear to be everywhere you but unless they learn the skills needed they quite often disappear quickly.
A professional networker is someone who understands what networking is all about. They know it’s not about getting a sale during that meeting but how they can help those in the room AND those in their networks. They understand that networking is more about listening and less about talking, it’s amazing what you can find out if you really listen to someone. Professionals will make the most of every situation and network not just at meetings but all times during the day, and are prepared with business cards should it be relevant to offer one. There is no such thing as a bad meeting to a professional and they make the most of even the quietest event. I’ve met some fantastic professionals this year and love it when I get an email from them connecting me to someone in their network, knowing it’s not really any benefit to them at that time but also knowing that because of actions like this I will refer them to my networks and so on.
Running a networking company I get to hear and see all sorts of networking mishaps, I’m also privileged to see not just fantastic business connections formed but amazing friendships too. Have a think about these 3 types of networkers and ask yourself, which one am I and which one would I like to be?
I spent a long time as an amateur when I first started networking, I struggled with confidence and was happy to just sit in the corner and hide if I’m honest, but I love learning and this was an area that fascinated me so I took the time to learn the skills to become a better networker. Whilst I’m being honest I probably spent a short while as a poser as well. I wanted my name and my business to be known and would give my time freely to train other teams to be successful. But I quickly learnt by doing this I was building their businesses without building mine and actually just because people saw me at the front of the room as a speaker or trainer didn’t mean I was building my business or putting food on the table! I became co-director of Networking Mummies 5 years ago and that helped my networking journey a lot. I’ve learnt lots from people within my networking community and they’ve all helped give me the experience to become a professional networker.
I get so excited by seeing others connect and hearing about the referrals going on within our network but also attending other networks and learning about them and what they offer. I’ve learnt that every networking meeting is different and different groups suit different people, it’s not a one size fits all business. Despite our name Networking Mummies we welcome anyone into our groups. We offer FREE family friendly networking events, which are a life saver to some, especially parents and those whose target audience is parents but others don’t want to network around children and that’s okay too.
So next time your networking why not ask yourself ‘Am I being an amateur, poser or professional and which one do I want to be?