Improve your “results” at networking events

Another consequence of the 6 degrees of proximity principle is that it allows us to step away from the “taker” mentality and take on a “giver” attitude.

Let me explain this with an example. In April 2005 I was one of the speakers on a congress of IT hardware resellers in Belgium. There were approximately 80 people in my session. When I asked them who had the “authority to make sales decisions” 80% of the people raised their hands. When I asked who had “authority to make a buying decision”, only 30% raised their hands. Then I told them “if you are here to do direct business with each other, I wish the 80% good luck to find out who those 30% are and who are not yet in a conversation with another seller. If you are a buyer, I wish you lots of patience and inspiration to escape from this mass of salesmen.” (In case you’re wondering about the 80% and 30%: 10% of the participants were small business owners who had the authority to sell and buy).

Of course this is a rather extreme point of view. I know that most salesmen (and because I have to sell my services and books, I’m a salesman too) are not going to stalk the buyers. But I wanted to make my point with regard to the “six degrees of proximity”.

If you look at it from a “small world” point of view, then everybody in that room represented on average 31 250 direct contacts (first and second degree). So if they would talk to each other to see if and how they could help each other buy or sell to their respective networks, not only there would be more business, but also the atmosphere in the room would change.

The high energy that comes from becoming aware of this mass of opportunities is very contagious. And you get the opportunity to build a relationship. We are always suspicious or even reluctant to strangers that want to sell their products or services. But we “lower our guard” to people who try to help us (or our network) to accomplish something without necessarily expecting anything in return.

Before you start e-mailing me with the question “Does this mean I can’t do any business at events anymore?” let me reassure you: of course you don’t have to hesitate when you meet someone you can do business with. My message is: instead of focusing on direct business, look for ways how your network can be of service to them and vice versa. If an opportunity to do business arises, people will be even more willing to do business with you as a result of your attitude.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from my networking book “Let’s Connect!”. You can find the table of contents, testimonials, an overview of the bonuses and a free light version of the book at


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