Wisdom from Jay Petersen,
Head Geek in Charge

I had the excellent experience of spending a little one-on-one time with Jay this afternoon. If you don't know Jay, check out his company website here and make sure to check out the blog which is full of helpful computer maintenance and prevention tips.

As always, it was a free-ranging conversation covering many topics, but we always have to include a little bit of networking analysis. We were talking about people who treat networking as if it were cold-calling. You know the approach. The moment you're introduced, they start giving you a presentation about their product. Next thing you know, you've been invited to an event, a demo, or given a link to a site with a "short video."

This is usually the result of over eagerness, pressure from above, or a misunderstanding of networking that leads them to think that networking is about selling. You can't blame someone for not having the experience to realize that pitching someone on the first meeting is probably going to close a future door. And rarely does anyone clue them in on their approach. It's a trap that even experienced networkers fall into occasionally. We find a sympathetic or even interested-seeming ear and we go into sales mode.

And yet we get annoyed or self-righteous when our overture is rejected? Here's the wise observation from Mr. Jay:
If you use an impersonal approach in networking, you can't take their response (positive or negative) personally.
So if you cold-call, or give a sales pitch on the first meeting, you cannot take it personally if you don't get the response you want. You didn't make it person-to-person or face-to-face or friend-to-friend. You made it an impersonal sales presentation because you didn't bother to get to know about their needs or wants. You just presented to a warm body who stood still long enough to listen. If they treat you like a telemarketer who called during dinner, you can't blame them.

Jay and I have a mutual friend, Dale Bierce who represents Sandler Sales Training in the Central Valley of California. Dale is a tremendous source of sales wisdom. He teaches us that we have to become emotionally tough in selling. You're just in a role and that you have to work on this aspect of your attitude if you are going to be successful in sales. If you're going to treat your networking as if it were a sales forum, then you must learn this lesson.

I prefer to make it personal first by getting to know people. Of course, you still can't take success or rejection personally, but that's a topic for another day.

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