The kind of party animal you don’t want at the party: a yak!
The world is made up of many people and because of that it is made up of many kinds of people as well. In networking you pretty well have to deal with it all. But recently I was reminded of one of the worst kinds of networkers around. That is what I call a ‘yak’.
To me a yak is a person who talks not only incessantly and who’s world revolves around them but this person also shows no care for what the listener is even interested in. A yak lies somewhere between a narcissist and a loudmouth. In real life they are bores but in networking situations they tend to be toxic. However, because it is a networking situation you shouldn’t simply roll your eyes and go away. This is because many people out there, yaks included, still may be valuable to your business, your customer and your mission. So before you simply abandon the yak you at least need to have some way have figuring out how they might be of value and how you might be of value to them. This said, I do have some ways of working with them:
Try to deal with them in groups rather than in one-on-one situations. When yaks are in groups they are easier to dilute. You can have side conversations. And there are often in groups people who can bring them to more of a civilized form of conversing.;
Try to bring focus to their rambles through guided questions. I always have a set of questions that I would like to learn about someone. I bring the long list to bear on these yaks because it then at least means they are running their mouths about something that others might at least find useful or interesting. It brings a little of give to their take.; and
If none of this works, well, then maybe it is time to move on. If it turns out to be far too much of a struggle then maybe it isn’t worth your time. Again, before you make this decision remember that you are in business. Don’t scrap everyone who you don’t get along easily with. They could be your next big customer. But if they just simply are going to fall into the 20% of people who cause more grief than they are worth (remember the Pareto Principle?) then decide it and move on quickly.
If you think that you might be a yak yourself there’s a test to know for sure. If the person you are talking to has glazed over eyes and they are not medicated in any way, you’re probably talking far too much and listening far too little. Your kindergarten teacher probably explained what to do in this situation. Remember the lesson!