Networking is a great tool to build your business. However, many people are not as effective as they could be because they are making one of these networking errors:
1) Fishing in the wrong pond – If you’re fishing for salmon in a trout pond you’re not going to be successful unless one jumped in there by mistake and it’s often looking for a rapid exit! The pond to be fishing in is the one where your ideal clients are congregating along with potential referral partners or centers of influence.
2) Expecting immediate results – Networking is about building relationships and it’s a longer term business building strategy not a quick fix. It’s just like dating – when you first meet somebody, you spend time getting to know each other and to find out if you want to meet for a coffee (or a cocktail!) as a next step. In the same way that you wouldn’t propose marriage on the first meeting, the golden rule of networking is never to be selling at the event. All you’ll do is come across as pushy or worse still, needy.
3) Jumping to conclusions based on initial first impressions – It’s difficult to know just how influential a person is based on initial first impressions alone. We now live in an era where a wide range of personal styles and dress codes have become acceptable and first impressions can often be deceiving. I was myself invited to an intimate gathering of entrepreneurs recently and the guy who participated the least in conversation and wore the simplest jeans and t-shirt was the most successful person in the room, running a multi-million dollar company.
4) Networking with people just like you – I see this a lot with small business owners where they stick to conversations with people they feel most comfortable with but they are not necessarily connecting with key decision makers or the most influential people in the room. It’s important to be building a network for where you are headed rather than where you’re at today otherwise you’ll never advance. See yourself as the CEO of your own business even if you’re a solopreneur and ask yourself how would the CEO of a larger company conduct themselves at the event. Then it’s time to step into that more expanded role for yourself!
5) Making it all about you – The golden rule of thumb here is to listen more and talk less. Be naturally curious about others at the event, find out what their business goals are, who they want to connect with and what they’re hoping to achieve by attending. Then you can start to be a valuable resource for them by making introductions and helping them achieve their goals. Your good efforts will be rewarded as people naturally feel the need to reciprocate.
6) Lack of follow up – This crucial step is so frequently overlooked and yet can position you as somebody who is professional and trustworthy because so many others fail to follow up. Take notes on the business cards that you collect of the next steps you’ve promised and schedule time in your agenda to follow up immediately so that you don’t forget! And don’t make commitments that you’re not willing to keep – this sends a subtle message that you are not somebody who can be trusted and by now you should know that people do business with people they know, like and trust!
I’d love to hear your comments and experiences from networking.
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