The soundtrack to my recent Moroccan holiday. Nowhere was safe: even at 7500 feet as we were climbing North Africa’s tallest mountain (it’s not as impressive as it sounds – we only went a little higher, had lunch and then turned around).
I have no doubt that at least some of the carpets we were offered were of very good quality, with interesting designs and were quite possibly very good value to someone in the market for an authentic handmade Berber rug. But is it a good idea to ask a tourist quite clearly out for a hike up a mountain if they want to buy a carpet? Where would I put it? How would I get it home with my 15kg Ryanair baggage limit already taken up with lots of shoes?
What the hell has this got to do with TAGtribe? I hear Bernie ask. Well, to be frank, a fortnight of aggressive and often inappropriate sales techniques got me thinking about smart marketing. Selling employment law services in London is of course very different to selling carpets to tourists in the Atlas Mountains but nonetheless, I couldn’t help but be frustrated at how crude and ineffective the attempts of the local traders were.
And this reminded me of how frustrating it is when one meets an aggressive networker – the sort Bernie talks about who will ask you what you “do”, not listen, talk about themselves and then thrust a card in your face. They are the London networking scene’s Berber carpet tradesmen and I suspect they have about as much success.
I don’t claim to be a networking expert, but I’ve been at it for a few years with varying degrees of success. I got better at it when I stopped trying to sell and started having conversations with people. Talk about anything you like (so long as it’s not The Apprentice). Build relationships. Do talk about what you “do” sometimes, or you have no chance of anyone ever being able to help you. In time, to paraphrase Field of Dreams, if you build those relationships, the work will come. People will refer contacts to you as potential clients, suppliers and partners. You will learn a lot and meet interesting people along the way. Oh and if you do it right, you’ll have a lot of fun too.