Scorched-Earth Networking

I recently spoke at two different events in Southern California and I found it interesting that at each event, questions about whether there is a right or a wrong networking style were brought up by audience members.

It is a given that people can be very different from one another; therefore, there are some very different styles of networking. However, there is one style of networking that results in the ground practically smoking wherever some networkers tread. This style can be referred to as “scorched earth networking.” It is important to avoid this type of networking in cultivating a successful business networking model.

Avoid the hallmarks of a scorched-earth networker, which are listed below:

  • Moves from networking group to networking group—constantly dissatisfied with the quality of referrals received from each.
  • Talks more than listens.
  • Doesn’t “honor the event”—networks at inappropriate opportunities.
  • Thinks that being “highly visible” is enough to make business flow his or her way—ignores the need to build credibility.
  • Expects others to be consistently referring him or her—has a “get” and not “give” mentality. Views networking as a transaction, not a relationship.

Scorched-earth networking doesn’t work, because building your business through word-of-mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in.


As you network, look around at what you leave behind. Are you creating relationships by building your social capital (farming as opposed to hunting), or are you leaving a scorched earth and many bodies in your wake?

Better yet, have you experienced someone practicing scorched-earth networking? If so, share the story here.

6 thoughts on “Scorched-Earth Networking

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Robert Michel

  2. Ivan, as we build our business we are going to more and more networking events looking for the most appropriate place to market ourselves. We’ve been to places where everyone has “dead eyes and fake smiles.” I felt dirty just trying to drum up business with them; even if they did belong to my target market. Another place I went to was a small tight knit group of friendly people dedicated to sharing business. Even though I only went to that group a couple of times I still give referrals to them. Sadly their network doesn’t reach my customer base so I haven’t received much back. My philosophy is that if I give enough I will eventually get something back.

  3. No one should accept or allow the Downturn to be an excuse for loss of revenue. Key of course is networking and referral marketing to keep your business strong. Focus only on those people that call on the same target customer that you do, and have the reason for doing business as you do. If they sell on price and you sell on technology, even if you are calling on the same clientele, it will not work. Challenges create Opportunities. Think about what a great opportunity it is to market more, because your competition is doing less. This is the time to really push and prospect for new customers. Make sure you have the right metrics to determine, which marketing is most cost effective for your business, and explore the multitude of inexpensive marketing that can now be done through the internet. Do not rely on any one form of Marketing to move your business forward.

  4. This very well could be the SIMPLEST yet most RELEVANT blog post I’ve seen in some time. Thanks Ivan! 🙂

  5. “Cultivating relationships” should be so obvious the key, yet some folks still don’t get it and that is unfortunate. Knowing that you can not accept a gift with hands clenched in fists of unwillingness to give in return is another critical realization that should also be self-evident. As we move through life I believe that we should become wiser to the simple truths about relationships, whether in the personal realm or in business, because at the end of the day they are part of who we are as individuals.

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