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Derek Bishop

Culture Consultancy


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3 Networking fails


Dear Leader,

Your website looks great, your literature stacks up, even your prices are in line with expectation; I want to do business with you! Or at least I did, until I met some of your people at the recent networking/conference event. Quite simply, if their attitude is indicative of your organisational culture then I don’t think that we have a future together.

Where did they go wrong? Well, because I don’t like seeing any company let themselves down, let me try to explain.

Fail 1. Your people gave no indication that they wanted to talk with me. The idea of networking is that you get to meet people, to build relationships and to share ideas. So what was the point of your people standing in a corner and only talking to their colleagues? I thought I’d meet them halfway and stood nearby but apart from one person who glanced up from their mobile phone, nodded once and then went back to texting, none of them even seemed to notice me.

I’ve encountered the same thing at conferences and trade shows; people who congregate at the back of the stand, seemingly so busy in their own deep discussions that they have no time for anyone else. Quite frankly, whatever the cost of the event it has been wasted.

Fail 2. They knew the pitch off by heart but didn’t want to listen. In my eyes this makes them little better than those spam callers who plague me on a regular basis. They knew what they had to say; they had a start, a middle and an end and nothing was going to deflect them from their course. I tried to ask a question, they blustered and then steered straight back into the prepared speech. If they are not going to interact then why not just hand out a bunch of leaflets and be done with it?

Fail 3. Do they even work for you? Finally I got into a conversation but that didn’t get very far. I mentioned a glitch on the previous version of the product and asked if it had now been sorted; they seemed to know nothing about the product or the glitch, looked vaguely around at their colleagues for help, promised to come back to me but never did.  I also commented on some forthcoming legislation which would affect the sector; again they knew nothing about it.  If you are going to send people out to network or promote your products, at least make sure they are well briefed.

Sadly, dear leader, I have to say that you are not alone in sending disengaged and uninformed people out into the networking and conference arena. Sadly for your business, the only message which you are conveying is of a culture of disinterest and I therefore have no confidence that you would see our relationship in the sort of collaborative and interactive light that I would be seeking.

Yours disappointedly

Someone who won’t be doing business with you

If you would like to explore culture and engagement issues feel free to email Derek at [email protected] or visit

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Derek Bishop


Read more from Derek Bishop

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