Business Networking – 7 Valuable Lessons from the Movie Swingers

Swingers poster.“You’re so money baby and you don’t even know it!” Ah, who can forget those ten beautiful words so eloquently and comically cemented into our pop culture lexicon by Vince Vaughn as Trent in the 1996 indie hit “Swingers.” Written by and starring Jon “Iron Man” Favreau, Swingers tells the story of… Wait! If I have to tell you what “Swingers” is about, this blog post won’t be as much fun. If you don’t know what the movie is about, get out from under your rock and go watch it. Suffice it to say it’s about a boy longing for his ex and the hipster friends who try to get him to get over her.

But, did you know that the movie is also a primer for business networking? You didn’t? Well, let me dish the top 7 lessons about business networking you can learn from Mikey and the gang.

  1. Go to Multiple “Parties.” Trent, Mikey and crew make it a point to hop from party to party. You gotta do the same. Hit as many network events as possible. Join a few local networking orgs like a chamber of commerce. If you’re in the event business, you should definitely look into organizations like NACE or ISES. Another good networking organization is BNI (the first 5-figure commercial gig I ever got was through BNI).
  2. Look the Part. When Trent and Mikey roll up to Vegas Baby Vegas, they look the part. Totally money. Remember, your attire and even how you smell are an extension of your brand.
  3. Have the Pitch. Trent was always ready with the perfect line to give whenever he met a beautiful baby. Know your pitch. In one sentence can you distinctly and clearly communicate what it is you do. Here’s mine. Person I meet: “So, Ron, what do you do?” Me: “I’m a commercial film and video producer, but my passion and specialty is worthy-causes and inspirational films.” (I always get a raised eyebrow when I deliver that last part. People are intrigued and want to know more.”)
  4. Listen intently. Remember that scene where Trent is at the party picking up on that girl, but the whole time he’s focused intently on what she’s saying. Do that! Don’t feel the need to prattle on about what you do. Listen and show sincere interest in learning what other people do. Allow them to ask before you start volunteering all your 4-1-1. And if you get into a good conversation, let it ride. Having two or three longer, meaningful conversations with people you connect with at an event will go much further than hopping around from person to person doing drive-by business carding.
  5. Don’t be Over Zealous. Perhaps the funniest scene in the movie is the most painful to watch. You know the one. Where Mikey, after arriving home late from bar hopping calls up a girl he’s just met and proceeds to leave about 9 or so messages on her answering machine in the space of about 3 minutes. Don’t do that. In other words, don’t inundate people you meet with a bunch of e-mails or phone call to meet up again or pitch your service. It’s totally appropriate to send a follow up e-mail, but don’t go over board. It’s frustrating to me when I meet someone at a Networking event and they proceed to email me every other day to meet up, or go to one of their Amway presentations, etc.
  6. Be Authentic. Do you remember when Mikey finally met a girl he clicked with? When he was authentic. His true self, beat up old car, corny business card and all. Let people get to know the real you. Don’t try to act like something you’re not.
  7. Give it Time. Wait two days before calling or emailing people you meet. Nah! I’m just kidding.🙂 (You had to have seen the movie to get that joke). Seriously though, effective networking is about taking time to get yourself out there, be seen, and build relationships. Although it is indeed possible to go to an event and meet someone who just happens to need your services right then and there, don’t expect that. Most legit networking organizations will tell you that it could be six months or more of consistently attending meetings and meeting people. I think Mikey was in L.A. for over six months before he met a new girl.

What NOT To Do

As you go out and adopt these networking tips, for heaven’s sake, do NOT…

  • …refer to the women as “beautiful babies.” They’re grown women. Show some respect.
  • …tear a business card in half as you walk away from that one person at the event who really annoyed you. It’s unbecoming. Wait ’til you get home.😉
  • …and most important, if that one prospect you hit it off with at the event does not call you, please, do not go moping around whining, “Why won’t they call?”

I’m sure there are other networking tips not necessarily related to “Swingers,” but these are a great start. What tips can you share? Or, if you don’t have any tips, share some of your favorite scenes from the movie.

You just KNOW I had to include “the scene.” Enjoy!

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