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Posted on Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:55 a.m.

Networking events: Avoid the temptation to sell

By Greg Peters


Photo by Jon Rawlinson

You step into a professional gathering, and he starts whispering in your ear almost immediately.

"Only talk with people who can buy from you."

"Why are you bothering with them? They can't help you."

"Can you see anyone more important here?"

His seductive whispers remind you that you have to pay the mortgage next week, that you need to put some food on the table for your family, and you've got that vacation in Tahiti next month. You need to make some money —now. Don't worry about networking. You can do that next month. Right now, focus on sales. If they can't help you with that, you don't need them.

The most dangerous thing about this fiend is that his whispers ring true for so many of us. Unfortunately, listening to him isn't likely to lead us in the direction we want. Following his counsel will, in fact, turn us into a "limited networker," driving people away from us.

So, how do we withstand his subtle siren song?

The only thing we have is the power of true networking, the angels of our better nature. They remind us that networking is about providing value to the other person. We have a single phrase which, if used often enough, will drown out the subtle devil.

"How can I help you?"

Keep that question always in your heart. Ask it with honesty and with the true intention of providing value to the other person — no matter what.

Do that, and the voices of those who are asking how they can help you will replace the temptations of following a less successful path.

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