Once again, I found myself at a day-long conference where corporate HR leaders, consultants, learning and development professionals and executive coaches mingled and shared ideas and opinions. Before the event commenced, I was in a conversation with the HR Head of a large global bank. Another consultant, whom I personally knew, approached us through the crowd. Realizing they didn’t know each other, I introduced the HR Head to the consultant and vice versa.
Oddly, after initial courtesies, the consultant started talking about her profession, her abilities, her vision of future leaders and of her opinion on mindsets. The HR Head glanced towards me as if to say, “Did you really have to introduce this patronizing lady to me and interrupt our conversation?!” To make matters worse, the consultant chose to remain with us for many more minutes before finally breaking away to meet someone else in the room.
Later, when I found myself alone with the consultant, and knowing her relatively well, I decided to pass on my observations-
– Did you realise who I had introduced you to? She is the HR Head of one of the largest global banks.
– Why did you not present your business card and make a connection beyond what you spoke of yourself? It was an opportunity for you to know her.
– Should you have learnt more about her bank’s challenges? It may have presented an opening to position yourself and your services.
Thankfully, the consultant took this feedback well. She even exclaimed, “Oh my, this was a networking chance I totally missed!’ She later even approached the HR Head to exchange cards and made a better impression. Well done!
In over two decades of networking and developing my businesses, I have seen this self-centered style of introduction occur often. In the process, one can easily lose the advantage of knowing more about the others’ world, challenges and views.
Networking is all about zigzagging smartly across a room full of clustered groups in conversation. Its about making a pleasant entry to break into one such group, connecting the dots, showing high gravitas, leaving a lasting impression and, knowing when to zip across the room to cast a wider web.
Put simply, it’s all about being the friendly neighborhood Spiderman!!