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Published:April 22nd, 2008 13:42 EST
Networking at its Worse

Networking at its Worse

By Terry Sumerlin (Mentor/Columnist)

St. Louis in February is quite different from San Antonio in February. I recently discovered that while speaking in the city of the Arch. I`m not at all used to 13 degrees and 8 inches of snow. However, from the Starbucks inside the hotel it was nice to look at the street corner and the winter wonderland.

What was even nicer was that I hit the winter window " just right for driving. Yes, driving! Normally, for the sake of time and convenience, I fly to engagements. (Did I just use convenience " and fly " in the same sentence?) But, on this trip I wanted to stop in Dallas and Oklahoma City to see the kids and grandkids. I also wanted to see a dear cousin in Springfield, Missouri.

The winter window " I mentioned refers to the fact that, though the weather was rough during my stay in St. Louis, going and coming the weather and roads were fine. So, I was able to successfully combine pleasure with family and business.

The cousin part of the family, and my visit with her, is actually the reason for telling this story. What happened occurred while I was seated beside her in church.

Just before Sunday school, my cousin introduced me to a sweet lady seated beside her. We chatted a bit, and then class started.

After class we chatted some more. I asked a few questions and discovered the lady is a distributor for some sort of formula you drink that does all kinds of good things for you. When she asked what I did I briefly told her, I`m a speaker on my way to a conference in St. Louis. " What happened next, I`ll long remember.

Do you have a business card? " the lady asked.

Sure, " I replied, confident that she was going to pass my contact information along to a meeting planner with her organization. I just knew I would be speaking to thousands of distributors in some exotic place.

To my surprise, she simply flipped the card over, wrote her contact information on the back and handed it back to me. Give me a call, " she said, if you ever need any product. "

After that I could hardly concentrate on the sermon. I also couldn`t wait to tell someone what happened. I`d collected my latest Barber-osophy story.

When I got to the conference for Unigroup, Inc., I took the story out of the box for the first time, and related it during a presentation on networking. I then asked the group, What did she do wrong? "

Everything, " someone replied. Then we spent a few minutes discussing some specifics.

First of all, there is a time and a place for everything. Church is hardly the time or the place for what she did. Especially to a visitor!

From a personal point of view, on those occasions when friends where Sherry and I are members ask to buy my books and when I deliver them at church, I always make it a point not to receive payment there. I just believe good businesspeople (networkers) know when and where to do business.

Secondly, though now it`s funny, she actually insulted me in the improper handling of my card. Good networkers receive a business card in such a manner as to show respect for the person giving it. The person`s name is on the card. You should take a moment to look at the name. Then, carefully put the card away as if you`ve just received a treasure. We should never allow the other person to feel as if we think the card is just a piece of scratch paper.

The third thing we noticed in the networking session, regarding the story, is the most obvious: Carry your own business cards. Though, as we said, there is a time and a place to use them - never be without them.

When it comes time to hand someone a card, be sure the print is toward the person so that she can immediately read it. Then place it in the person`s hand as if bestowing a gift.

BARBER-OSOPHY: Networking minus respect and common sense equals cheap manipulation.

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