At an IoD meeting today, one member expressed his discomfort with the word ‘networking’. I hear this kind of thing a lot, and find myself quite fascinated by this sort of claim. Is ‘networking’ so terrible a word?
A few years ago I was visiting a girlfriend in Manhattan. As we sat in her sunny kitchen on the Upper East side with her toddler playing at our feet, my friend suddenly said to me, ‘I am having lunch with the CEO of JP Morgan Chase tomorrow. What are the three most important things I should say to him about you?’, as casually as though she had asked, ‘I’m dropping by Dean & Deluca tomorrow – would you like me to grab some of their yummy chocolate brownies for you too?’ I was momentarily dumbfounded. Cultural differences aside, what makes some of us blanche at the prospect of progressive business language and behaviour?
I have a client who described attending a networking event in London recently as ‘the worst experience of my life’. Admittedly he is an artist emerging on the international scene, evermore thrust into the uncomfortable limelight and into the world of serious philanthropy and sponsorship when he would rather just get stuck into some canapés, quaff champagne and disappear out of there, but the worst experience of his life?
When a client is debriefing me after a prospect pitch I often ask, ‘Did you close?’ and then get a look as though I had in all sincerity asked, ‘Did you remember to flash your underwear?’. Close is a rather grubby little business word, isn’t it? But all it really means is asking something along the lines of, ‘So after what you have seen and heard, do you see us working together?’ The answer you get, even if not the one you immediately want, will nevertheless be very informative.
I wonder what other new business, or sales terms leave some of us feeling rather squeamish, and why?
Amanda Riley Pickthall, Founder of Boardroom Enterprises