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Five Obnoxious Business Networking Behaviors

I’m a reformed Boston driver, especially when my wife and daughters are in the car, and even on my best behavior I’m struggling to remain calm Friday night as two cars on the side street up ahead of me run a stop sign, one right after the other, to cut me off on route 151 East heading toward Mashpee on Cape Cod, and then slow down to less than 30 mph in a 45 mph zone.

It’s obnoxious

To jump in front of me

Just to slow me down.

And it gets me thinking about your Elevator Pitch.

Because business networking events are full of people

Who are in a really big hurry

To cut you off.

They aren’t doing it intentionally.


They’re just so nervous about their Elevator Pitch that

They don’t realize that their behavior

Slows down everyone’s results.

Including theirs.

Here, then, are techniques for dealing with the Five Most Obnoxious Business Networking Behaviors.

1. Business Card Bullies

There’s this persistent myth

That if you can get enough business cards

Into enough people’s hands

Your business will grow.

There’s just one thing missing:


It’s presumptuous to hand someone a business card

Before you’ve started a conversation.

So start a conversation.

An interesting conversation.

A conversation that inspires them to ask you for your card.

That’s a lead.

2. Conversation Interrupters

It’s awkward to interrupt a conversation between two people.

Yet people do.

All the time.

Then stand there looking annoyed when

You can’t think of anything (polite) to say to them.

As if you’re the one being rude…

Looking for someone to talk to?

First approach people who are standing alone.

Ask them if they attend a lot of these types of events.

They’ll be relieved that someone so witty and charming approached them.

What if nobody’s standing alone?

Approach a group of 3 or more.

And wait patiently for an invitation to join the conversation.

Oh, and if someone approaches your conversational group,

Find an opportunity to introduce yourself and

Include them in the conversation.

3. Buffet Gobblers

It’s a waste of time to eat

When there are so many people to meet.


There’s no graceful way

To hold your food and drink

While shaking hands.

Leave the juggling act to the professionals in Faneuil Hall.

Have a snack before the event.

At the event, focus on talking to people.

4. Leeches

They don’t mean to drag you down.

It’s just that they’re drowning

In a sea of people

And you’re the only one they know

Who knows how to swim.

You know what?

Networking is more fun with a friend.

So team up!

Meet people together.

Introduce each other.

Before too long

They’ll be engaged in their own conversations.

And you’ll miss them.

Just a little.

It’s ok.


Just a little.

Then go find someone else to talk to…

5. Spammers

Asking for a business card

Does not imply permission

To add anyone on any sort of mailing list.

Then how do you grow your list?


Start a conversation.

If you get a sense

During that conversation

That this person might be interested

In the kind of information you publish,

Mention that you publish a newsletter

And ask if they would like to receive it.

If they say yes,

That’s permission.

Then you can add them to your list.

6. …

What obnoxious business networking behavior have you seen?

16 comments on “Five Obnoxious Business Networking Behaviors

  1. I encourage you to ignore any negative comments. I enjoy your posts very much, and I always learn something. I cannot thank you enough! Keep ’em coming.

    1. Hi Monika,

      Thanks for the feedback! People like you are the reason I love doing this work.

      I appreciate you leaving a comment.


  2. Hi. Thanks for the post. Never been to these networking things yet, but planning to, so this comes in handy. I suppose also understanding that everyone is in the same boat and just finding your own confidence…

    1. Thanks for the comment and welcome to the world of networking! The thing to remember is that business networking is a process, and that a networking event is the first step in that process of getting to know people and developing trust.

  3. What else is obnoxious is this post and its incomplete sentences, single word lines, and horrible grammar and punctuation. There’s good advice out there about breaking up web content into short chunks, even one sentence per paragraph (when appropriate), but they still need to be cohesive thoughts and complete sentences. You have taken this concept far past the extreme and made it unreadable. It’s like a really bad e e cummings poem.

    1. Thanks for the feedback!

      My style isn’t for everyone so I appreciate you reading my post and leaving a comment.

      1. I find it a little
        Uncomfortable where
        You place your
        Line breaks, but
        Overall, it does
        Improve my comprehension. So,
        Thank you.
        I would highly
        Recommend that you
        Take a poetry class so your breaks
        are in better service of
        Your meaning.

  4. I’ve had problems in the past of people gloating about how well their business is doing in comparison to yours, rather backhandedly I might add. I wondered why they were at a business networking event if they were as high flying as he was making out. We’re all in the same boat here pal.

    1. Hi Claire,
      That is obnoxious behavior in any context, and especially in a situation, like business networking, where you get the most benefits by helping other people succeed.
      Alas, there will always be those who are in it just for themselves. It’s actually best when they show their true colors early so you more quickly focus on the folks who want to work together.
      Thanks for posting!

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