Turning Networking Lemons into Lemonade

How you can turn a boring networking event into someting productive that will lead you with referralsA client recently expressed disappointment in a poorly attended networking event with a self promoting organizer.  His feeling was that it had been a total waste of his time.

I remember attending an event where the self-important organizer/speaker droned on and on – I didn’t want to sit there listening to him “waste my time”.  I almost got up and left – then I got an idea; – what if I set aside my cynicism for a moment, raised my hand, and in a positive way, asked a question about what he was droning on about?  What if I participated in the conversation – maybe even converting the unwelcome speech into a conversation?

So I gave it a shot and did just that. I supported the speaker’s position, acknowledging him, and engaged by sharing a little bit about my experiences that related to what he was talking about.  This encouraged a couple of others to join in what was now a Q&A, and lots of solid ideas and encouragement came out. The audience came alive; there was much audience participation, laughter and even applause.

And in the end, do you know what happened?  A roomful of people got to know me that would not have had that chance otherwise.  Several people came up to me afterwards and thanked me for my “participation.”  Two of the participants that joined in on the impromptu Q&A became friends and we’ve referred each other business over the years.

And the organizer?  Well he was beaming by the end of the talk.  He had seen it wasn’t going well, but it ended so positively, he couldn’t have been more relieved.  I had made him look good, and to this day am friendly with that organizer/speaker – and have been introduced to many people by him.

It’s all about perspective.  Everyone you meet is a potential client and/or could refer clients to you, whether the room is teaming with people or contains just a few.  See how you can make a difference for those you meet, make it about them, and it will come around to you.  I did it by letting go of my judgment – that the speaker was not doing a good job, was too self-important, and that the event was going to be a waste of time.  I decided to contribute something to that speaker, and to the rest of the audience – because I could.

How can you make lemonade out of lemons the next time a networking event or seminar starts to look like a waste of your time?

Mark Bullock, phoneBlogger.net & Practice Marketing, Inc Mark Bullock - phoneBlogger.net - Signature
Mark Bullock
Co-Founder of phoneBlogger.net
Partner / Advisor / Coach
Practice Marketing, Inc.
Connect with Mark Bullock on LinkedIn
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3 Responses to Turning Networking Lemons into Lemonade

  • What a great story and thank you for sharing it !
    I am intrigued though about the actual subject, what the speaker said and how you took one of his ideas and turned it into an interesting discussion.
    Would you be willing to share the specific example?
    Thank you !

  • So well stated Mark. We can all relate to your initial experience. So that slight, and yet HUGE change in perspective made all the difference for everyone! Talk about a win-win. Thanks for sharing this. Yours, Ada

  • avatar
    Daniel Burns says:

    Great story. And the approach works even when a speaker is not “droning on” but is just not reaching the audience. Thanks for reminding us of how we can help each other. You took a “lose/lose” situation and turned it into a win/win. Sounds a bit like what we do in mediation!

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