Who to Avoid at Networking Events


When you move to a new place and want to get the gist of how people tick, attending networking evenings is a great place to start. These evenings are centred around hobbies, business hacks, digital marketing trends, product launches or brainstorming activities for certain communities. I can personally vouch for the usefulness of such events, since I’ve had professional assignments come about as a result of networking. They can also help you build your own tribe, especially if you do your homework and pick a good field to graze on.

Networking events can revolve around insightful panel discussions or workshops. But on the flip side they could also be insidious sales pitches.

Regardless of what type of event it is, the meat to reckon with is the people who fill the room. The crowd determines whether the event was worth that $50 Uber ride which took you 2 hours swimming through thick traffic (in the worst case scenario). The key is finding the right strangers to spend your evening with. By avoiding those who fit the following profiles, you can pretty much guarantee a successful networking session:


Bull Dozers

We love confident people who are enthusiastic and upfront enough to introduce themselves to everyone who enters a room. It’s great to get a full account of what they do, their interests, beliefs, opportunities they’re after…but then when it veers off into how successful they have been at every juncture of their life, what they like to do on weekends, how they like their coffees, where they went on their last holiday, the massage they got while being on holiday, what they ate…. it means that you’re entering the danger zone.

People who only want to talk about themselves and don’t leave you any room to contribute can be real hazards, especially if you meet them at the start of an event. They could mean well and come across as fascinating, but they’re uninterested in forging good relationships. In order to know if a someone is valuable to you (emotionally or professionally) you must seek their input. This is nothing but common sense. So, if you meet a person who doesn’t posses this basic nugget – nod, smile and go get a drink. Run away.


Insecure Vultures

A sub category of the above, insecure vultures are those who seek out promising individuals and work tactically to crush their hopes and dreams. All it takes is for them to ask you what you wish to do in life – and this gives them enough fodder to begin their BS. They will tell you that the market is extremely competitive for people in your field, warn you about how difficult it is to even break through in the first place and then advise you to keep your expectations low. There is absolutely no truth in any of this. Sure, the world is a competitive place but there are always opportunities for skilled people. 


Mindless Freaks

In a new city? Same here. Attending a networking event to see what’s happening? Awesome, me too. Don’t know what the hell is going? Okay. Don’t really want to talk about anything? This is awkward. Just feel like smiling and staring at others? Even more awkward.

You may ask yourself why people sign up for events when they don’t really want to be a part of it. This is a great question. I have no idea what drives such people. Strangely enough, I have often spotted them at multiple events. They’re like serial attendees who don’t give a crap about anything! Being in a crowd of wishy-washy thinkers will not help you grow in anyway. Sometimes it’s easy to hang out with such folks; their relaxed vibes and non-demanding demeanour can take the edge off. But why settle into your comfort zone at the cost of making dull connections?


Sleaze Bags

Without sounding pompous, I must add this category of networkers simply because I’ve observed many and can easily sniff them out the moment I enter a room. They are women or men who are out to get their eye candy and do this in sneaky ways such as standing around well-presented people and picking out their ‘targets’.  When they secure their prey, they begin conversing with them while flooding them with ‘signals’. These usually include clinking of drink glasses (at this stage I get the game and walk away), winking, giving a playful pats on the arm while laughing and staring intensely at you without saying anything.

Even if you’re not the object of such people’s desires, you will recognise a Sleaze Bag by the way they pause during a conversation and scan someone from head to toe. Yes, these people exist. No, there isn’t any point in socialising with them. Nod, smile (actually don’t smile at all) and walk away.


Usually Sleaze Bags depend on alcohol to fuel their tenacity, but there are also others who need that extra boozy encouragement during a networking event. Ain’t nothing wrong with that. It just sucks when a person you actually want to talk to, is off their face. This may happen towards the end of an evening, after you’ve sussed out the crowd or even heard them on a panel discussion. If the person is a speaker, make sure to get their attention immediately after they get off stage. On the other hand, they could be someone you’ve been hearing about from others all evening and finally get the opportunity to have a one-on-one. If they are tipsy and you doubt their ability to remember you, making them your LinkedIn connection should be your #1 goal.

Now, if they’re someone who isn’t influential and hasn’t been stable enough to tell you about themselves in a coherent fashion, walk away. This is someone you could avoid till fate brings you together in a place where getting drunk isn’t an option.

Lastly, Connection Hoarders

Alternatively, you should also steer clear (or expect nothing) of people who just want to add you on LinkedIn without any real introduction or conversation. You should avoid being this person too. Value social networks by using them for what they were destined to be.

For The Journey Ahead

Reading through this list may leave you feeling a little shaky about your networking ventures. Rest assure that these examples are rare, and that the majority of attendees are looking to mingle for noble reasons. If you spot certain signs of negativity in someone, don’t hesitate to smile and turn around for a fresh start. The time you get at networking events is too short to bear the weight of those who don’t add any value. You should focus your attention on like minded folks who will keep you in good spirits and fill you with hopes of collaborating or socialising with them in the future. For a checklist on the traits to see in people you should network with, stay tuned for my next article…

Digital Detox

After thinking about the innovative changes in digital industries, I came across a wave of social media posts about the importance of a ‘digital detox’. There is a new movement that is gaining momentum right now… Digital marketing writers are publishing articles about the damaging effects of being addicted to digital content for their online publications, which are going viral. Digital is simply getting too digital at the moment, and we must all take a break.

So before my previous article on digital disruption is considered passe, I wanted to examine the non-digital ways in which I have experienced disruption in my life.

Here are some tech-free examples I could think of:

My Moka pot.

Bialetti wanted the art of espresso making to be so simple, that people could do it at home.

There’s no need to get my butt out of the house for a grand cuppa of flat white anymore. Having espresso at home without the use of electricity or a queue to wait in, has made my life easier. It has also replaced the service of the local barista – he or she will not be earning $3.50 from me on a daily basis. Cheap, convenient and replacing old systems? The Moka Pot ticks all the boxes. Yet it falls short in one big way. You miss out on human interaction of the purest and most golden kind; the one which involves your over-enthusiasm and the barista’s nonchalance.

My friend’s anxiety about current affairs.

This person has a tough time with digesting the news. S/he just can’t do without absorbing every piece of information about an array of industries and upchucking it. It’s a way that s/he deals with the chaos we live in. Thanks to this person, I know what’s happening in the world and I don’t even bother seeking any confirmatory reports, because I get the real deal, for free.


Does this person know that s/he is offering me a convenient service? No. But it serves my purpose. See ya later Trending tab on Facebook. No need to buy a newspaper. I ain’t CNNything either.

Free monologue performances at Santa Monica Promenade.

Not too long ago, I veered out of a terrible blockbuster film that left me feeling quite heart broken. Where have all the interesting stories gone? When would I ever be entertained again? Little did I know that my doubts would be answered right away, on the corner of the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica. A crazy dude was hanging around, overly-enthusiastic to share his tale about his daring teenage years, to the wide range of uninterested audiences who were trying to enjoy their evening stroll.


While waiting for the pedestrian crossing, it was so fascinating to hear about the way the crazy dude’s parents were really mean to him and how his sister was great at stealing credit cards. Unfortunately, when it was time to cross the road, he got to the really meaty part of the narrative which concerned his day time job as a pill-pusher. The crux of the matter is that I got something so real and insightful in those two minutes, that it restored my trust in the world of storytelling. You don’t need to go to any movies. Cancel all your subscriptions and just take a trip to the coasts of SoCal, really.

Getting Back to the Tech World…

I must confess that I couldn’t think of too many examples which didn’t involve some modern technology. This example is actually one that I completely missed in my last article, and it is one that is changing the structure of South Asian entertainment. In other words – the Woods of Bolly is getting disrupted. 

The Indian People’s Secret Music Network.


It’s not really a secret, but when you see an Indian person wearing headphones and enjoying some beats, s/he is most likely tuned into a music streaming app by the name of Saavn. Officially launched to users worldwide in 2009, the app has now become a portal of original content allowing listeners to tap into the largest repository of…

– South Asian music (both ancient and brand new)

– Serialised narrative content (with it’s This American Life style of podcasts)

– Chat-shows offering the latest celebrity gossip (too exciting, my goodness.)

– Original Saavn branded music (thanks to its artists in residence programs)

Forget installing those weird satellite dishes in odd places of your yard, and plug into the most current content that is customized for audiences from various South Asian regions.

What can we takeaway from this?

Life can be easily disrupted by clever, high-energy people who want to make themselves heard and wish to share their simple joys or discoveries with others. It sounds easy enough to put into practice ourselves. Who knows why and where the next disruption will come from?

The Behenji Disrupts ‘Disruption’

Two years ago, when I attended ADTECH ASEAN conference in Singapore, I was introduced to the phenomena of ‘disruptive technologies’. Uber, Apple, Twitter and Pinterest were the big names (I bet there were more, but these ones stuck to my brain) and proved to be game-changers in the face of traditional business models that were bursting at their seams.

Fast forward to September 2016. We are in-between seasons as well as decisions about staffing and political authority. The word disruptive is now taking on a different meaning; one that encompasses the way people feel (or want to feel) about the world. There is a strong desire for everyone to be disruptive. Writers must somehow hit the buzz word in their articles.

Let’s take a look at the common definitions of being ‘disruptive’. According to Clay Christensen, there are two modes of disruption. One answers a need that the current market has never been able to satisfy. The other offers a swifter and cheaper solution to a service or product that already exists.

Within the past week, I have seen these article headings which have made me question the nature of disruptive services or technology:


I think these articles can be put on the back burner of our busy minds, because they don’t come close to what disruption is really about. They do successfully highlight innovative ideas, but for some reason ‘innovation’ is losing its steam today. Is it because we are being led to think that no one can really be innovative in this day and age? Or is it not a harsh enough term to use for our low attention spans?

Anyway, my favourite (and realistic) examples of disruptive brands are:

Uber, Spotify, AirBnB and TrunkClub.

Clear and simple, all of these companies have redefined how we commute, listen to music, holiday and dress ourselves.


Thanks to Uber, people have stopped relying on union-controlled taxicabs. These were unreliable in the first place anyway. I was once caught in the middle of no where in the area of Marina Del Rey two years ago. I walked 4kms till I reached a resort where I could use a phone to call a cab. Now all I need is a mobile network of some kind and the job is done. I’m safe in a car, being tracked by satellite, a remote team and even a friend whom I can notify when I’m on the go. Lately (and I’m really late on this one) I discovered how great Uber Pool is. You can be in a pool as the only passenger and get the biggest discount you can imagine. 


With Spotify on the rise, I predict a total disestablishment of iTunes in the near future. If you get Spotify Premium, you pay a monthly average of AUD$12 or EUR 6 – and a family plan of 6 accounts for AUD$18 or EUR 9. What’s interesting is the app’s recent tie-up with Playstation, allowing users to seamlessly listen to their playlists as they game. You can add as many songs as you like, tap into different charts across the globe, have teams of people curating the right artists for you (and helping so many independent bands to gain recognition) all online and offline.


We all know that AirBnB gives you the home-away-from-home experience. But think about how effective the system of personally communicating with your host is. You get to have a one-on-one with your concierge/housekeeper/hotel manager all for the purpose of making your short trip the most comfortable memory ever. You have more privacy than a hotel room and you get to put yourself in another person’s shoes for the duration of your stay. This is the best feature of AirBnB, really. We’ve heard amazing stories of people who traveled to some small village in Italy, where they were fed home-cooked cannoli and drank wine made from their hosts’ backyard. Sometimes it doesn’t even have to involve an exotic location. Staying in a suburb you’ve always admired, is equally riveting. 


Lastly, the Trunk Club takes away the pains of parking at a busy mall and walking in circles till you submit to the first ill-fitting outfit you tried on. It’s an app that allows you to pick your general style and then sit back to await a trunk of clothes selected for you, by an in-house stylist/designer. Your wardrobe is always fresh and interesting with the best brands, avoiding any chance of having an overly-stuffed cupboard. It’s also less expensive than you think.

After pondering over all of this, I find it difficult to get the way restauranteurs, producers, filmmakers photographers, teachers and sales teams all want to hop on the disruptive bandwagon.

I’ll keep an eye on this, but in the meanwhile…

Here’s the Behenji’s List on Truly Disruptive Companies to Look Out for in 2017:

The Podo Bluetooth Camera


A camera so small and agile, it can be stuck onto any surface to get that impossible shot of something spectacular. This camera will definitely replace selfie sticks and will make us less reliant on our iPhone cameras. Instagram celebrities will be jumping for joy. You don’t need anyone else to take your photo, simply use your phone to control the device and you could be a one person team tracking your own activities of each day.

The Vurb and Snapchat merger


Vurb is a spectacular app made for mobile browsing – something which no other search engine company has been able to construct (strangely enough)! It allows you to save snippets of specific information that you not only searched for, but got results for. It ties in with your calendar and location, offering you a swipe-by feature of pieces of information, instead of pages or tabs of search results. Since being bought by Snap (formerly known as Snapchat), the entertainment and social networking app will allow users to share information with each other in a personalised way, or offer recommendations based on things you search for.

KeyMe Kiosks


This is a little crazy, but in the near future you could get your own key cut by a machine that will have your data saved in the system. KeyMe operates without a human being working during office hours, behind a counter with a metallic contraption. This is a clear example of how an entire trade could possibly be eliminated from our existence in the near future. People will be replaced by a convenient photo-booth like device that gives you customised keys, within moments.

If you have any other examples of Disruptive technology or services, let me know – and we’ll keep the list going!