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Guest Post: When opportunity knocks, are you listening–or talking

Posted by Ilise Benun on

In the Hilarious-Until-It-Happens-To-You Department, previous guest mixer and Marketing Mentor client Drury Bynum of Workerbee Creative got an interesting look at connection and opportunity from the other end of the wire. Read ’em and weep…

At a recent fashion-related networking event, I was reminded of the power of listening when a zealous host bent my ear for a solid 7 minutes – a blink of an eye when you’re engaged in conversation, an eternity when someone is showering you in the blinding light of their ego. That’s how long it took for this potential client became someone I never cared to see again.

As a side project, I make 1-minute documentaries on artists and designers – folks whose work I admire. I do these for free and I am always on the lookout for new subjects. Previous to this networking evening, the organizer mentioned that the host was looking for ways to market with video. So I thought I would talk with her and see what I could offer. I even brought my camera. Maybe she was a candidate for one of my films.

I approached the host and introduced myself. That was the beginning and the end of the conversation. In the next 7 minutes, she gave me: her personal history; a history of the event; why the event was video worthy, and; a lamentation on how she couldn’t afford me. Finally she asked me a question about fashion-related video but graciously supplied the answer herself.

In the beginning I tried to get a word in, "Well that’s — I think — Have you — I could –." In the middle I gave up and just waited for her to finish. By the end I was looking for a way out. In such a short time, this person went from someone I might have offered free services to someone I wanted to avoid at all costs. I’m still amazed at the value of the opportunity she lost but never even knew it. I imagine that she left the conversation thinking, "That went pretty well."

It’s obvious that it makes marketing sense to listen and ask questions, but this lesson puts a monetary value on it. Think of the millions of dollars that have been lost simply because someone can’t keep their mouth shut.

  • More in: Connecting, Guest Mixers, How to Get the Most from ______, Networking

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