A student in my current Certified Networker class asked a great question last week. It had to do with networking.
In several situations where she was a co-networker, her voice was drowned out. What do I mean by that?
Here's the picture.
She and a co-worker were visiting with someone their organization wanted to develop a stronger relationship with. Her co-worker took over the conversation and generally wouldn't let her have a word in edgewise.
She was mystified and realized this was one of the reasons that she doesn't like to network. It seems that someone always talks over her.
I explained that when more than two people are networking, it is more difficult and more complex. I suggested that she and her co-worker might decide to go separate ways in the future, which will give a better return on the investment of the hour or so spent. Each will come back with a stronger relationship, two for the price of one!
Basically, when three people are tying to network, somebody gets left out -- it is never an even division. When four people try to network, it is a party and while it may be fun, the relationship stays where it was before the party started.
There is one way that three people networking can work. It is when one person is introducing two other people and acts as the host to get the new people talking. But again, the good host shuts up after she or he gets the other two connected.
So to make myself perfectly clear -- to network really well, have a conversation with just one person!
Any other ideas?