The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned by the Best from the Absolute Worst – An interview with Tim Houston

January 17, 2013
  • Timothy, you’ve written a book entitled “The World’s Worst Networker: Lessons Learned by the Best from the Absolute Worst” tell my readers a bit about your book.

0303-TImHouston-EDIT1-336x420The World’s Worst Networker chronicles the kind of people that give networking a bad name!  It takes an uncensored, humorous look at the way some people conduct their business networking, both online and offline and helps the reader to learn from and how to avoid their various flubs, faux-pas and fiascoes.  Here’s a link to my site:

  • What was your motivation in writing this book?

For almost 20 years, I have attended thousands of networking groups, various Chamber of Commerce events, trade shows and seminars. At each one, I have always encountered some people who were very bad at networking. Many of them would try to sell their products or services within the first 30 seconds of meeting them.  Others would say or do things that were inappropriate. I called these people “The World’s Worst Networkers.”  In more recent years, the same mistakes which were being made in the real world were also happening on social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

After each encounter or experience, instead of complaining I would ask myself a question: “What could I learn from them so I didn’t make the same mistakes they did?” So out of every negative experience I had, I always found something positive that I learned and more importantly, could share with others to help them to avoid being one of “The World’s Worst Networkers.”

  • You start of with a WARNING: This is not the typical “how-to network book” – how did you get the stories that you share?

In sharing my experiences with others —  some of which are considered the world’s leading experts in the fields of networking, marketing and relationship development —  I learned that they too had stories and experiences about their encounters with some of “The World’s Worst Networkers.”  Whenever we shared out stories, instead of it just being a complaint or a “war story”, I would always ask them what did they learn or take away from the experience.  Very often, they would pause and think about it and then share the lesson that they learned.  In some cases, they would also confess that at one point in time, they too did some of the things that some of “The World’s Worst Networkers” do and how they changed their course.

When I decided to write this book, I went back to them and asked if they could share their stories and experiences with readers around the world and they gladly accepted the invitation. The book has contributors from the U.S., Europe, Australasia and the Middle East. While some of the contributors are very well known and others may not t necessarily be household names, each and every single one of them is among the best networkers in the world.

  • You have several sections in your book, the first being “The Most Unwanted List” which of those stories was hardest to live through?

There are so many good and funny stories in the book that it’s hard to choose just one that was the “toughest” to live through.  From my own experiences, I’d say one of the toughest that I had to live through (and still encounter at many events) is what I called “The Outsourced Networker who is on “The Most Unwanted List”.

In brief, these are the people who think that they can have others do their networking for them. What they don’t realize is that people do business and build relationships with other people, not with companies. The Outsourced Networker uses a revolving door approach to their networking by sending a different person to represent their business at every event. The results are usually disastrous: the public’s perception is that the company has a high-turnover; there’s no accountability and no opportunity to build a relationship with one person.  The worst part about it all is that it’s not just the “big companies” that do are guilty of “outsourcing” as some small businesses try to do it as well, as I chronicle in the book.

  • Since you share disasters, what did you hope to accomplish by writing about what not to do?

I remembered something that Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great: great companies not only have a “to do” list but also a “stop doing list. In that same spirit, The World’s Worst Networker helps the reader learn the definitive ways of how not to network through the real, uncensored, funny and sometimes scary accounts of our networking experiences.

  • A number of my readers are in the media, so as we conclude this interview – what two things would you want them to know about the uniqueness of your book?

First, while there are so many good books, programs and organizations that teach people “how to” network effectively, this book is very unique in that it’s the only one currently in its genre that takes a contrarian approach to the subject. As one reviewer on Amazon said, “Learning what not to do and how not to behave can sometimes provide better insight than ‘how-to’ instruction.” Lastly, this book is designed for the networking newbie and the veteran alike and the lessons learned can be applied to online or offline networking efforts and can be used by a variety of people, ranging from the business owner, college and graduate students and the everyday person, anywhere in the world.

The book can be found kindle version here: – or paper version here: