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Shallowness and Networking

By: Dave Brock


It’s clear we’re in a frenzy of networking and connecting. There seems to be a rush to establish connections, friends, whatever. People are reaching out, connecting, racking up the numbers. They’re using every channel possible—LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and more. But then there’s this odd phenomena. 

Somehow, I’m under the mistaken opinion the purpose of networking and connecting is to form some sort of relationship. It needn’t be close, but it’s a relationship. We build some sort of informal bond, develop some level of trust.
But instead, networking seems to be more about list generation, lead gen, and other things—but little about relationships.
Today, I get a call from a sales person. It was an OK call, not great; perhaps my expectations of these calls is so low, that someone who is polite and articulate is good.
Salesperson, “Hi Dave, I’m so and so from such and such company (a Sales 2.0 solution provider). My boss, Mr. Big Name In Social Networking And Selling, asked me to give you a call to discuss our solution…”
I recognized Mr. Big Name In Social Networking And Selling’s name. In fact he and I follow each other on Twitter, I like a lot of his stuff, and tweet his materials. So we were starting to establish some level of professional relationship through Twitter. It may have grown and extended. 
But something else happened. He tried to transfer that relationship to someone in his organization. I’m not complaining about the prospecting call, and won’t comment on the problems with the call or why it was inappropriate. It’s frankly not the sales person’s fault. It’s the notion that Mr. Big Name In Social Networking And Selling thinks that relationships are transferable, that because we have a budding Twitter relationship, he now has permission to transfer that relationship to a sales person with the mission, “Prospect, Pitch, Qualify.”
I’m pretty certain it’s not my ego speaking. I love talking to sales people. I just feel as though the relationship has been betrayed. We’d barely connected, we were establishing a common bond, starting to establish a low level of trust, then—Poof—I’m handed off to be sold. So I guess Mr. Big Name In Social Networking And Selling really views networking as fodder for generating prospect and lead lists.
Well, I’ve stopped following him. I’m just not feeling the warmth in the relationship.
Another “Big Name In Selling” recently reached out asking to connect on LinkedIn. I really respect him, like his product. He reached out, “Dave, we share a lot of common connections and the same passions, I’d really like to connect.” I accepted the connection, sent a note, “I’m flattered that you ask, thank you. By the way, you don’t live far away, let’s get together for coffee.” I thought, since we apparently share a lot of passions, we might have a very interesting discussion.
I wasn’t offended with the lack of a response. That’s fine, it might not fit his priorities, no harm, no foul.
But then a few days later, I notice him tweeting about my post, “Don’t Hide Behind Social Selling,” with the comment,  “I often tell people to pick up the phone or better yet go meet someone in person.” Hmm, interesting I think, just what I had tried with him. Let me try again. I tweeted, thanking him for the comment, then, say, “What about that cup of coffee?” Haven’t heard anything, don’t expect to. Leaves me a little confused about his comment.
I don’t want to be rough on these guys. We all make mistakes. But, unfortunately, this behavior is rampant. There seems to be a lot of firing for effect, rather than a genuine interest in connecting and engaging. These activities cause me to be more cautious about networking—who I network with, what their agendas really are.
I’m sure others will feel the same way. There will be an apprehensiveness to connecting and engaging. Defenses will be up: “Am I just fodder for a prospecting call?” “What do they want from me?” “What’s their agenda?”
This article was originally published by Partners in Excellence
Published: June 12, 2013

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Dave Brock

Dave Brock is the founder of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a consulting and services company helping to improve the effectiveness of business professionals with strategy development, organizational planning, and implementation. Dave has spent his career working for and with high performance organizations, ranging from the Fortune 25 to startups, including companies such as IBM, HP, Nokia, AT&T, Microsoft, General Electric, and many, many more. The work Dave does with business strategies is closely tied to personal effectiveness of the people in the organization. As a result, Dave is deeply involved in the development of a number of training and coaching programs.

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