Seductive Networking


“Be seductive” the man said. “Use your voice, your eyes, your body to seduce the person you’re talking to. Make them WANT to get to know you better.”

“Most importantly”, he added, “Remember, it’s not about YOU!”

To be interesting you need to be more interested in the person you’re talking to than in yourself.
“The man” was Steve Trister and he was entertaining a bunch of business owners and at the same time giving them invaluable tips on how to get the best out of the networking experience. His performance was brilliant; full of really funny observations about all the ways to alienate people and how to be really engaging and not just spout a tired old elevator pitch.

He put particular emphasis on being aware of the emotions we create in others and how to make real connections.

“What do you do?”

What does it say when the first question someone asks you is, “What do you do?”

No attempt at small talk, not even the slightest interest in you as a person, they’re only interested in the business you run and if you are a prospective customer.

If “What do you do?” was banned from the vocabulary, most serial networkers would be struck dumb.

Well pardon me folks, but I am more than my business.

I’m looking for banter, rapport, a bit of fun, an exchange of ideas.

If I just wanted to know what business people are in I can get that from the attendance list. The reason for going to networking meetings must surely to meet the PEOPLE not the businesses, to discover if they’re funny, quirky, boring or obnoxious.

Be honest now, how many times have you come away from a networking meeting having been totally fascinated and charmed by someone, irrespective of whether their business is of any interest to you?

Which is a shame because I’m sure in ‘real life’ most networkers are charming and fascinating and they know equally charming and fascinating people but we’re all missing out on those extended connections because we never get further than “What do you do?”. No one has a real conversation because they’re too busy looking over each other shoulders to see who they’re missing.

Whoever invented the term “Working the room” should be sent to networking purgatory.

If you’d like to meet people who don’t greet you with a sales pitch, and are interested in finding out about you, not just your business, try Drive the Network events! It’s networking for the 21st Century.

25 replies
  1. Lisa Blackler
    Lisa Blackler says:

    You are not alone Ann. I just don’t get the point of being a networking predator, prowling the room looking for the perfect prey. By behaving like that you display all your prejudices for the whole room to see – and you limit your business and social world to a predictable small range.

    But then, in some ways, I am happy that so many people behave that way. They deselect themselves from my radar – job done!

  2. Ann
    Ann says:

    I think that’s where Twitter is so useful. You can get to know who genuinely interacts and who just broadcasts. It’s a great way to suss people out before you meet them and a really good way of deepening the relationship after you’ve met them. (Like us!)

  3. Owen Watkins
    Owen Watkins says:

    You have captured very nicely why I find so many networking events rather boring and tedious, and for that matter social occasions at conferences can go the same way. Far too many people don’t know what to do in that situation or are merely interested in “what’s in it for me” – actually the latter is pretty much part of the former. It’s easy to end up with a small group of people you already know or spend the whole time with just one new person with whom you have struck up a conversation.

    Taking an interest in the other person really does work, and I have had some fascinating conversations this way. Just don’t be disappointed if the interest is not reciprocated. I think it was Dale Carnegie who recounted a story of one particular dinner party where he was deep in conversation with one particular guest who practically told him his life story, and who commended him to the host afterwards as a very pleasant young man and a great conversationalist – even though he himself had barely got a word in edgeways all night.

  4. Ann
    Ann says:

    I love that Dale Carnegie story Owen. I’m very happy for other people to do most of the talking so long as its INTERESTING and not trying to sell me something. Is the art of conversation dead do you think? We seem to have some interesting ones on Twitter!

  5. Owen Watkins
    Owen Watkins says:

    Perhaps your take on the art of conversation is down to the increasing pace of life for business people – perhaps most adults. People just don’t make enough time to converse with strangers – to get to know new people or to keep up existing friendships.
    I think we agree that this is a major tactical mistake, as much in a business context as in a social one.

    My teenagers on the other hand never seem to run out of time for conversation with their friends through whichever medium they choose.

    twitter’s maximum of 140 characters a go does impose a certain discipline on its adherents’ conversational practices though.

  6. Ann
    Ann says:

    I should have known you’d relate to this Mr “Give me Hug”! Maybe we should be bold enough to ask the sellers “What are you doing?” and get them to change the subject?

  7. Lisa Blackler
    Lisa Blackler says:

    That’s a great idea Ann – let’s have a pact between us where we challenge that one-way traffic approach head-on. Maybe we could have a website brining together all of our thought and essays on the subject and just hand them a card with the link? Hehehe!

  8. David Winch
    David Winch says:

    I was at the same event as Ann, listening to my old friend Steve Trister tell people not to just “vomit their content” at people. And yes, it was intriguing afterwards to then hear several, but not all, strangers ask me what I did.

    My solution? I just changed the subject, and tried to be more seductive!

  9. Ian Barrs
    Ian Barrs says:

    Love the article Ann – and you’re bang on the mark regarding Twitter. I loathe people purely there to build their brand – no interaction, no personality.

    I’m a big advocate of the nature of collaboration and assistance that Twitter can provoke, with the added bonus that with so few characters, there’s no going around the houses.

    I look forward to more of your articles.


  10. Ann
    Ann says:

    Even in the 1-1 practice all I got was “We’d” all over. We do this and we do that and we do blah di blah. On the seduction scale it was akin to someone saying “I know 99 positions for sex, aren’t I clever?”

  11. Ann
    Ann says:

    Interesting to connect to someone via a re-tweet by being sarcastic and sexist! Not sure what that says about YOU Ian :))

  12. Ian Barrs
    Ian Barrs says:

    Ha, well, whipping boy I’m not, but I never judge by a single comment (especially one I would’ve made myself).

    One click on your name is all it took to see what you’re like — people need to remember that about social networking!

    Hopefully, it says I’m an open communicator with a receptive sense of humour.

    But you never know!

  13. Ann
    Ann says:

    Well, that’s the impression I’m getting Ian. Actually I could kiss you for your comment as the importance of ‘one click on your name’ is something I’m trying to get across to people. See http://clickonmyface.tv Contributions to the blog welcome!
    Have you thought of getting a gravatar so that your pic shows up automatically on forums, blogs etc?

  14. Ian Barrs
    Ian Barrs says:

    Thanks Ann : )

    Love the name of the site, will toy with contributing and be in touch.

    I’ll take your hint on the gravatar front – I’ve never considered it necessary, but I suppose it would be helpful!

  15. Ann
    Ann says:

    Hey Andy, so what do you recommend as an opener/ice breaker? A friend of mine approaches two people chatting and asks if they fancy a threesome! (Btw, you may want to investigate http://www.gravatar.com so that your pic appears on blogs and forums automatically)

  16. Thetaxfather
    Thetaxfather says:

    You are assuming everyone wants to, or has the ability, to be quirky, chatty and share their ideas.
    I know of a lot of successful business people who are not interested in pleasantries.  Instead they just want to achieve their objectives by the quickest possible route. Others are shy but have fantastic ideas.  I think psycho babble identifies  four personality types **runs off for a quick Google** amiable, analytical, expressive and driver.  This results in people acting in different ways.
    To ignore people because they are trying to be direct may lose you the opportunity to work with “drivers”.  These are sometimes the very people who get things done.  In fact you may be ignoring three different personality types.  The art is to be able to read people and react accordingly whilst still being you.  Are you looking for a friend or someone who you can have a professional relationship with?
    My current opening comment is to ask if the other party knows where the Ascension Islands are…….although as I’m going against the thread it might be “I’ll get my coat!”

  17. AnnHawkins
    AnnHawkins says:

    @Thetaxfather Just catching up Peter! Thanks for commenting. I think we’re actually saying the same thing – the key is to tune in to your audience and do whatever it takes to seduce them. That might be direct and forthright or it might be slow and easy but the important thing is to put the other person at the centre of it all and not simply tot out the same tired old elevalator pitch and expect everyone to respond in the same way.

  18. JonGreen_uk
    JonGreen_uk says:

    Controversial I know, but I don’t think it’s actually wrong to ask what someone does, as an opening gambit after you’ve asked their name.  What makes the difference is why you’re asking.  If you’re trying to work out whether the person in front of you is “worth” talking to, that’s going to show: you’ll convey that you’re shallow and false, and entirely selfish about networking.  On the other hand, if you’re asking because you’re genuinely interested, looking to find either a common ground from which to chat or something interesting to explore, that’ll show too, and conversation will flow naturally.  It’ll be there in your eyes, and your body language.

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  1. […] and makes business meetings a glorious playground of discovery and fun. I’m still hoping that seductive networking will catch […]

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