Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

07970 638857


Not A Natural Networker: Lessons From The Wild

Standing out from the crowd ...

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It doesn’t pay to stand out from the crowd if you’re a zebra. An early insight into the power of camouflage came from an observation made from wildlife researchers tracking herds of zebra on the savannah ...

If you're a zebra on the Savannah, then it doesn't pay to stand out from the crowd!

If you're a zebra on the Savannah, then it doesn't pay to stand out from the crowd!

photo by 'sutirta budiman' on unsplash

To keep track of a herd’s movements, the researchers would attach a radio collar to one animal so they could find them day to day over vast distances. What they discovered was that they inadvertently signed the animal’s death warrant.

Inevitably that particular zebra would be killed by predators within two days. What they had done was make the animal stand out from the crowd, thus enabling their predators to focus on them in the swirling mass of stripes.

"Of course, in promoting your business you want to stand out from the crowd!"

That’s what marketing is all about. If everyone had stripes you’d probably go for spots. Trouble is, it gets harder and harder to actually achieve this visibility as everyone then gets spots and now you have to go for zig zags and on and on. A veritable arms race.

According to Statista, social media advertising spend in the UK has risen from £0.27 billion in 2011 to £2.3 billion in 2017 and we all get bombarded every day with posts, blogs and messages with an astounding range of creativity as everyone tries to get ahead of the game and present themselves as a super zebra ahead of the rest.

I rarely go to a networking event without several other participants offering marketing related services into the SME market. And nearly all of them are offering to add to that activity.

"Graphic designers, copywriters, social media services and marketing all offering to help you stand out from the crowd!"

Then there are the individual tactics of some networkers trying to be different and stand out from other members of the group. They spend money on promotional gifts, pens, notepads or other clever articles all designed to help you remember them.

They choose an odd name for their company, wear outrageous colours in their work clothes, keep their hat on in the meeting or recite awful poems when it’s their turn to promote their business (yes, you know who you are).

If you have a large enough personality it can be very successful. Still, it soon escalates into an arms race. If everyone wore a hat then your hat had better be the biggest brightest or weirdest.

I do remember one meeting many years ago where one chap wore a flashing name badge. Here’s the thing, yes I remember his flashing badge, but for the life of me I don't remember what his name was, what service he offered, whether he was any good at it or who he wanted to meet.

There is another way of meeting your ideal client which is less susceptible to this type of arms race. First, you have to stop being the zebra. Instead, put your prospective client in that role.

"No, I don't mean put a collar on them and feed them to the lions!"

I mean, brief your contacts about the specific type of people you want to meet. The richer the description you paint of your ideal client the more you make them stand out from all the people your contacts know and meet.. Then as business contacts and friends go about their busy lives they will spot them for you naturally. No funny hats or gimmicks needed.

Let me give you my example:

I want to meet consultants and business-to-business providers who have left employment and set up on their own. They know their ideal clients are large companies who are hard to access except through an introduction.

They are experts in their field, but don’t know how to market themselves to make this happen. They are likely to go to networking events, but often will confess that they are 'not natural networkers'.

So, when one recent client confessed to someone in a networking event that he “was not a natural networker” up he popped out of the crowd as someone she should introduce to me.

If you’re not getting the results you want from your network, it may well be that people just don’t have a clear picture of who you want to meet. Your zebras are still hidden in the herd.

"Would you like to know more?"

If you'd like to find out more about networking if your not a natural networker, then do sign-up for my workshop, Target Market: Find Your Starting Point on 18th July, give me a call on 07970 638857 or click here to ping me an email and let's see how I can help you.

Until next time ...


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07970 638857