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Posted on Sun, Sep 8, 2013 : 6 a.m.

Is your networking interaction or interruption?

By Greg Peters


Is this what your networking looks like?

Image by Scott Maxwell

Thinking about it, which do you remember more clearly, the last television commercial you saw (interruption) or the last phone call you had with a friend (interaction)? How about the last billboard (interruption) or the last coffee with a networking contact (interaction)? What about the last piece of direct mail advertising (interruption) or the last handwritten letter from family (interaction)?

And to which side of the continuum does your networking belong?

In almost every case, those methods which we welcome — interactions — make more of an impact than those we are either indifferent or actively hostile toward — interruptions. In fact, if you believe Seth Godin, interruptive marketing has had one major outcome.

It's taught us to ignore interruptions.

Think about it. If you watch TV, any given hour-long episode has about 15 to 18 minutes of commercials which comes out to about 30 or so. Thinking about the last hour of television programming that you might have watched; can you remember even two commercials?

Now, I'm sure that you do get some benefits from interruptive marketing. I don't know the psychology of it, but I'm guessing there have been studies showing that repeatedly blaring out the same message to someone will somehow subconsciously get them to buy your product. Kind of like brainwashing, if you think about it.

Whatever, the relative benefits, I think that interruptive marketing can teach us a couple of lessons about networking.

First, on a per situation basis, interaction is more memorable than interruption. When you have a 50-50 give and take interplay between two people, the connection they forge is much stronger than when one is "shouting" at the other. Don't believe me? Quick, what was the name of the last telemarketer who called you, and what was he selling?

Second, interruptive marketing counts on repeatedly delivering a message to a captive audience and getting them to act on it. Networking counts on both delivering your message and, almost more important, receiving the message from those in your network. Since your networking success is dependent on first delivering value to others, you must communicate with them to discover what they hold as valuable. Without the interaction, you are just guessing.

And probably just wasting everyone's time.

Communication, interaction, and the desire to forge stronger connections through mutual benefit are the underlying building blocks of good networking. Any activity which counts on the one-way flow of information from you to the faceless masses really isn't networking. It's interrupting. Be aware of it and also be aware that, like other interruptions, the end result is you just might be ignored.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to