help writing essays for college college essay ideas help instant essay writer best college essay help online essay helper quality custom essays help on college essay need help writing an essay write my english paper write my paper in apa format essaywriting service help in writing paper write my research papers thesis proposals buy papers online cheap custom essay writing sites writing my thesis help writing essays for scholarships thesis topic write my paper co write my paper apa style custom paper writers coursework info coursework writer uk custom essay writing service toronto online thesis writing argumentative essay helper online essay help chat best essay websites thesis research argumentative essay helper act essay help write my english paper for me live essay help write my biology paper best writing service reviews write my essays purchase research paper online college application essay services write my essay 4 me buy cheap papers online essay help college thesis support where can i find someone to write my paper the best essay writer do my essay for me cheap essay editing service online thesis abstracts buy essay writing phd thesis writing services write my thesis need to buy a research paper buy college research paper i need help writing a narrative essay thesis for phd thesis search homework help research paper help writing a compare and contrast essay help writing papers for college best writing essay write my paper in 3 hours i need to buy a research paper community service essays hire essay writer thesis statement for research paper help essay writing argument essay help who to write a thesis write my paper please online paper writing service custom law essay coursework papers custom essay writing services reviews buy custom research papers essay conclusion help help with writing papers how to write thesis proposal thesis publishing papers help professional essay writers for hire custom written essays help writing thesis help write an essay online where can i buy an essay order cheap essay online essay writing services for cheap assignment essay help essay editor service purchase a research paper can i buy a research paper legitimate essay writing services english essay writing help need help to write an essay best custom essay writers write my research paper online essay writing services for cheap law school essay editing service custom made essays best online essay writing service help writing college essay buy custom research papers best thesis custom research paper writing help writing a thesis statement help write essay online thesis proposals help writing an essay for college coursework only degree thesis research proposal top essay writing services thesis research proposal write my nursing paper i need help writing a narrative essay research papers help ghost writer for college papers essay marking service national junior honor society essay help college essay helper custom coursework writing service college essay writing service do my coursework custom essay writing cheap thesis editors college essay ideas help hire someone to write my research paper custom writing essays services thesis research proposal essay writing service toronto professional college application essay writers cheap custom essay help me write a compare and contrast essay cambridge essay service writing a thesis paper cheapest custom research papers How to Network With the Elephant in the Room « Publishing « Beneath the Cover

How to Network With the Elephant in the Room

As those who have benefited from business networking know very well, belonging to a networking group that meets regularly helps members establish and maintain relationships that can prosper for years. It’s almost inevitable, however, especially in the ways that these groups are structured, that you wind up in business networking situations with people that you simply just…can’t stand to be around.

Sad to say, drama or “bad blood” can occur at any time whenever we occupy the same space with other humans – but this is even more likely in situations where wide varieties of people and personalities interact. By their very nature, business networking meetings are included in these situations.

There are several reasons why you might wind up in a business networking situation with someone you’d prefer not to encounter. I’ll discuss three of the most common reasons I’ve seen over the last two decades, as well as provide some suggestions on how to navigate gracefully and comfortably around these potentially awkward situations.

1. When a Referral from One Member to Another Has Gone Bad

The primary purpose of regular business networking meetings that are attended by business owners and sales professionals is to develop close enough relationships between members of the group so that they can refer business to one another.

In nearly every case, this is a win-win for the person getting the referral and for the one who gave it. In a small percentage of referrals, however, something will have gone wrong. For whatever reason, what should have been a positive experience just goes south.

Then human nature kicks in and makes it even worse: People tend to talk about each other, not to each other. Suppose that Margaret gives Larry a referral and for some reason Larry did not deliver what he had promised. What tends to happen is that Margaret then tells her friend Sam what an idiot Larry is, and how bad his service is…without ever going to Larry and talking to him to personally discover what went on and discuss how it could be fixed.

At best, this behavior perpetuates the negative feelings. At worst, it exacerbates them.

In my experience, in more than 90% of cases like these, it turns out that there was actually nothing wrong with the referral…it was simply a matter of miscommunication!

The bottom line: Things sometimes go wrong, but don’t perpetuate the problem through lack of open, honest communication. If you take a few minutes right after a situation occurs and talk about it in a non-confrontational way, you’ll avoid making an awkward situation even worse.

2. A Personal Disagreement

I’ve often said – only half kidding – that networking would be so much easier if people weren’t involved! But since they are, there is inevitably going to be a disagreement now and again. Over the  years,  I’ve been asked hundreds of times how this should be handled, and my advice on this has always been the same: Don’t focus on the problem; do focus on the solution.

Why is this? Because if you only focus on the problem you become an expert at the problem – but you never come up with a solution to fix it.

I’ve seen this so many times in the different chapters of the networking organization I founded. A member has a disagreement with another member, and this leads to his obsessing with how much he doesn’t like that person, about what is wrong with that person. He becomes an expert at what is wrong with the person he disagreed with.

And that’s not going to help anyone – not the members in the disagreement, and certainly not the other members of the chapter who have to listen to this drama at every meeting or get-together of the group!

Here is what I suggest that leaders of any networking groups do when it comes time to intervene in a member dispute. Take aside the member who is doing the complaining and ask: “Just how bad is this situation?” One a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the best and one being the worst. Here’s the interesting thing: Most of the time, the answer is 3 to 4. This may be surprising to hear, but in my experience, it’s true.

After the member answers – and if they do indeed answer 3 to 4 on the scale – ask this: “Why is it so high?” They will look at you like you are crazy, and probably say something like, “But it is low!”

Sure, it’s not a 9 or a 10, but ask them, “What is good about the person you are in this disagreement with – to the point that you didn’t give them a 1 or a 2?” And most of the time, they will come up with more than one good thing about him or her! The leaders should help the member build on that, and encourage open, honest – and direct – communication between the two members (as in the first situation above, communication is key).

This way, the members can deal with the problem, while also embracing the positive feelings that each member will almost always have for the other, as building blocks for finding a solution to the issue.

I can’t stress this enough: If you can focus on the solutions rather than just the disagreement, you absolutely can get through most issues!

3. Networking With Former Spouses, Girl/Boyfriends, etc.

Networking groups tend to attract like-minded people. Because of that, these groups can often bring people together for more than just business. This can be a blessing. But it can quickly turn into a curse if the relationship ends with both members still in the same group!

Short of making a rule that members cannot date – which is simply not realistic or recommended – I would offer an important point if you ever find yourself in this situation. Yes, a breakup can lead to some awkward moments and feelings of discomfort when you have to face the person regularly in the days and weeks following the split. But I argue that the value of the network is so high, that it’s worth working through those feelings – feelings that usually fade, as most people participating in a business networking group are highly professional, evidenced by their joining such a group in the first place.

So, to put it bluntly: Suck it up, and continue to network. Don’t lose a network of valuable referral sources you have built over the discomfort of a few days or weeks at the most!

And remember: The more professional you remain throughout the breakup and during the time immediately following it (by not talking badly about the other person, or bringing your personal situation into the business operations of the group), the more highly you will be viewed by the other members.

No matter what the particular details of the situation, the fact is that at some point or another almost everyone involved in business networking will face an awkward moment with another networker, so it’s probably going to happen to you.

It’s the end game that you should be working toward, and that is growing your business. Don’t ever burn bridges with people in your group, because you never know – you might end up being friends and valued referral partners!

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (, the world’s largest business networking organization.  His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at  Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute (, an international referral training company.

How To Publish A Best Selling Book

Subscribe To Beneath The Cover's Blog

Join the many publishers and authors who already get their updates sent straight to their inbox. Enter your email address below:

  • Anonymous

    Great tips. So important to keep focus on the solutions. Thanks for sharing!