Being ignored or avoided at networking events

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Comments (15)

TanyaF in London, United Kingdom

34 months ago

Hi everyone,

I consider myself quite good at networking, especially at events for careers and specific businesses. I generally manage to have a brief chat with everyone present.

However, from time to time also something quite negative happens:
people I try to approach just turn away or say just "Hi" and then look around or look away instead of talking - almost as if they are too educated to say they have better things to do other than talking to me.

I assume that they do this purely out of prejudice against something about my appearance, as they try to avoid me before even hearing who I am!

It is quite hurtful at times, considering that networking events are for that - networking, at least introducing oneself to everyone, and discussing a bit.

The behavior of these people is very similar to a "rejection" in a nightclub. Only, it is a business event.

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jenab in Austin, Texas

34 months ago

Not everyone is good at networking; don't take it personally. If they're that rude or socially challenged you probably don't want to talk to them anyway. Just move on to someone else.

Brava for making the effort to try to chat with everyone but it's not at all a failure if you don't, or can't Do try to make one or two more substantial connections.

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Bluetea in Texas

34 months ago

TanyaF in London, United Kingdom said: Hi everyone,

I consider myself quite good at networking, especially at events for careers and specific businesses. I generally manage to have a brief chat with everyone present.

However, from time to time also something quite negative happens:
people I try to approach just turn away or say just "Hi" and then look around or look away instead of talking - almost as if they are too educated to say they have better things to do other than talking to me.

I assume that they do this purely out of prejudice against something about my appearance, as they try to avoid me before even hearing who I am!

The behavior of these people is very similar to a "rejection" in a nightclub. Only, it is a business event.

Personally, I hate events that are billed as "networking" events. Everybody is trying to hawk their wares. I like a more circuitous route like user groups, associations, fund raisers, Pee Wee Herman Fan Clubs, etc., where people meet on a regular basis.

Should you attend a network event, never try to endear yourself at the first meeting. Nobody wants to dance with you then. After the 2nd or 3rd meeting, you'll have better luck."

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TanyaF in London, United Kingdom

34 months ago

I am simply wondering whether for some people I should use a different approach.

I generally smile and shake hands with everyone.

Could it be that some are threatened or feel they are not respected if I show so much enthusiasm?

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Nick in Somerville, Massachusetts

34 months ago

I don't know about the UK, but it seems like here in the US, everyone at a networking event is in the same boat. No one is in a position to say "hey, you have skill x? I have an opportunity for you!" Almost everyone at these events is looking for an opportunity, and very few of them have an opportunity to offer. It's basically almost like a AA group.

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Parafreegal in Chicago, Illinois

34 months ago

I think you can make some friends or acquaintances out of these events but not much else. They're like flea markets with all sellers and no buyers. The one I went to was a total cluster fudge and completely disorganized. Basically, they're cocktail parties from what I can see. They get you out of the house. That's about it. Like this board does, it's good to know there are others in your shoes.

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jenab in Austin, Texas

34 months ago

TanyaF in London, United Kingdom said: I am simply wondering whether for some people I should use a different approach.

I generally smile and shake hands with everyone.

Could it be that some are threatened or feel they are not respected if I show so much enthusiasm?

Tanya, it's commendable you're open to meeting everyone there. But unless you're the host or organizer, they are probably thinking you're working the room a little too hard. But try focusing on fewer people and making deeper connections. The key to good networking is not the number of people you meet, but the quality of the relationships.

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TanyaF in London, United Kingdom

34 months ago

I agree with those who said that not everyone we meet will be valuable connections. I am comfortable also with just talking.

But my complaint was rather about how I felt [a bit hurt as well] by the ignoring/indifferent/avoidant attitude that some people showed - for no apparent reason.

I would just like to understand why they might feel that way.

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Nick in Somerville, Massachusetts

34 months ago

They may be long-term unemployeds. Frankly the longer we go without meaningful work, the more cynical we are about things like "networking events" ever working. Also, "networking events" these days are rife with people trying to scam others out of what little money they have left with pyramid scheme ideas. So they use the avoidant defense mechanism on people who seem like they might be trying to sell them something.

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TanyaF in London, United Kingdom

34 months ago

Aha, so it is possible that people think I am some type of scammer?

Never thought about it actually.

Yes, I mean, my main aim at networking events is to socialize and THEN see whether there are opportunities, but I don't go with a specific aim of selling things or finding a job.
So I assume that everyone wants to socialize.

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John in Catonsville, Maryland

34 months ago

Nick has a very good point. Personally, I am not the extrovert that many people are.... so if someone were to approach me with a big smile and all "bubbly", my first thought is "what does this person want from me?"

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Nick in Somerville, Massachusetts

34 months ago

As for myself, I avoid networking events because frankly, the last two I went to were a collection of people easily 15-20 years older than me, all out of work, all on the verge of giving up. It actually made me *more* depressed about my situation than I am already, because there wasn't one person my age there. It made me feel like I'm the only 30 something out of work (though I have a PT job now, I still may as well be out of work, with what it pays).

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jenab in Austin, Texas

34 months ago

Nick, I completely understand the frustration with the formal networking events. The ones I enjoy the most are less obvious, and much more relaxed.

I'm a member of a local technology group; I don't really enjoy their happy hours. But I like their "lunch and learn" events because the focus is not on self-promotion. I've made friends that way.

The best networking is in informal environments when the goal is not so mercenary as "I need a job, what can you do for me." Getting involved with local faith-groups, charities, community events, that's all networking, too. But the primary goal isn't selfish, that's just a fringe benefit.

That's not to say I don't get involved with local professional associations; I do. But I enjoy their events that aren't primarily networking best.

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TanyaF in London, United Kingdom

33 months ago

By the way, I wasn't really referring to any specific networking event (e.g. with a purpose of career or business development), but the idea of networking event in general, which includes smaller industry events and trade fairs.

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Solena in Virginia

33 months ago

Ha! Funny you mention this I was just thinking about my local American Marketing Association chapter. They stick in their little groups and cliques and think they are better than everyone there.

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