Friday, May 22, 2009

Asshat networking

Headed to BEA? Me too.

I've been to some events recently that could be mistaken for I AM AN ASSHAT club meetings. Since we all know you do NOT want to be an asshat here are my three top suggestions for avoiding the chapeau chateau.

1. Do not waylay someone on a mission: someone going toward a specific destination with focused intention. This can be the bathroom; this can be a meeting; this can be a suddenly open spot at the crowded bar. If someone is clearly moving toward a destination, that is not the time to stop them and introduce yourself and start talking.

2. Do not begin pitching a product or service upon introduction. Effective selling is solving a problem for the buyer. To solve the problem you have to know what it is. That means you have to ASK and then listen. For me, this means I ask "what kinds of books are you really hoping to find" or "what is on your wish list" Then listening carefully, thinking and MAYBE writing a pitch email the next day.

We've all been annoyed by people who've buttonholed us with solutions for our salvation. Don't be that asshat.

3. Do not pounce. I know, I'm tempted to do this myself when Lee Child ambles by, but it's really bad form. Pouncing means just what you think it does: leaping into a person's field of vision with a squeal of delight and begin extolling their virtues (or worse extolling their weaknesses!) It's entirely correct to introduce yourself to someone you don't know. That's what these events are for after all. But you do it in a way that you don't evoke Hobbes:


Yamile said...

Great advise! I'm not going anywhere tonight, but I'll keep these wise words in my head for when I need them. Though I have to say, this advise is good no matter what you do, who you meet, and what you sell.

Anne-Marie said...

Hi Janet,
To me, it is always about manners and consideration, and no matter what people might think, they never go out of style and their absence is never unnoticed.

With the comic strip, you've just reminded me of how much I miss that pair, and this despite teaching a few boys who bear an uncanny resemblance to Calvin.

Have a fun time at BEA!

Alicia said...

I'll be at the BEA too! I'm going to make sure not to pounce, pitch ('cept at the SLAM) or waylay agents walking by. Good advice. I'll just smile serenely while I'm screaming like a star struck teenager inside.

~Sia McKye~ said...

lolol! I love Calvin and Hobbs. So, are you saying you've been in Calvin's position? Did you find your shoes?

I hate being pounced on and if I really want to meet someone, I find a way. I'm not shy, but I do have good manners. There's usually a way to go up and speak to someone, especially if they've just given a presentation. I wait my turn and say hi.

Even if it is taking advantage of being in the bathroom or on the way and saying hi, I'm Sia McKye, I'd love to chat with you when you get the chance. It shows good manners not to go into a presentation while the person is dancing around trying to get into the stall. I've had it happen to me, won't do it to someone else.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Fine. I'll try my best not to pounce on you as you're heading for the bar or maul you in the bathroom. But I'm not making any promises. Seriously, have a great time in NYC - if I see you at the BEA Writer's Conf. I'll do my best to stop by and very politely introduce myself. After all, as my mother will attest, I wasn't raised by wolves.;-)

SundaySoup said...

Oh, gosh...forgot how much I love Calvin and Hobbes. When I was in Denmark I bought them in Danish for my cousins who were hosting me. In Danish they are called Steen og Stoffer.

Steena Holmes said...

Note to self for when I attend one of these ... don't be a yahoo, don't pounce and for all that is holy do not waylay someone in the washroom!

Have fun!

Alexander Field said...

I am heading to BEA in a couple days as well...and this is great advice. Having been on both sides of this fence, you make some great points. But I think you should post the "how to avoid or dodge or quickly brush off YAHOOs" list as well - that would be helpful! : )

McKoala said...

Have fun! Love C&H. I had a roommate once who had heaps of their annuals. Kept me happy for days.

Anonymous said...

Good advise--sense for everyday living.

:fights a sudden craving for a Yoo`hoo drink:

I'll be at the BEA, I hope ; ) but in book cover only. Have a great time and a safe and happy holiday weekend.

Unknown said...

Hi Janet,
Any chance you feel like demystifying BEA - I know about the conference on Wed but I've heard of this wonderful place where you can walk through and fill bags with free books. . .What exactly is it and who gets to go? Who's identity do I have to steal to get through the door?

Margaret Yang said...

Sigh. I miss Calvin and Hobbes almost as much as I miss Miss Snark.

Trying very hard not to be a yahooligan.

none said...

Is it bad that I had to zoom in three times to make sense of the cartoon, and even then I couldn't read the words at the end?

Monica (aka monnibo) said...

Well said! I think that with BEA and BookExpo Canada (now cancelled, *cry*) it definitely is going more public and less businessey, so still maintaining decent behaviour is fantastic. Publishing Yahooligan is the equivalent of a rock concert groupie. My bosses were saying that BookExpo Canada was chock full of Chapters employees just going around for free books.

Toni L.P. Kelner said...

Hope to see you at BEA. I'll be the one not pouncing.

Anonymous said...

I was at BEA, I was very good, I did none of those horrible things. I didn't get to talk to you though. I am trying to figure out how, one can politely and effectively talk to somebody who really doesn't want to be bothered. It must be an artform. I did get to listen to you. I attended all your panels and enjoyed everything you said. I especially enjoyed the pitch prep session. I think you helped me with my pitch enormously. Thank you for being so fantastic.