Could you be making mistakes while networking and not even know it? Do you know you’re making networking mistakes but have no idea how to fix them?
In this article, I break down the most popular and biggest networking No-No’s …the one’s I’ve made and the one’s I see people make all the time.
If you’re wondering why networking is even important or if you still look at networking as a want and not a need, I recommend you read these articles first:
Now, for the networking mistakes:
1. What’s in it for me
The problem: One common mistake people make while networking is trying to get the other person to jump in on their work or help with their project within the first few minutes of meeting them, especially if they are an industry or media influencer.
If you meet an influencer for the first time and lead with what they can do for you/ how they can help you, you’ll score a big F.
If you’re meeting influencers and saying things like, ‘I do x too, I think we can work together’, you’re going about networking the wrong way. So many other people are pitching them the same way. You end up being a number; one in many pitches.
The Solution: A better way of pitching to peers or influencers would be to create rapport first, add value, then pitch/ask for something small.
2. Not being deliberate
The problem: A lot of people jump from one networking event to the next without a clear purpose. They have no idea that you should have a strategy for networking, especially at events. This is a terrible mistake because as Peter Drucker says,
‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it’.
Without a strategy, you’ll be networking blindly; attending events but wasting a whole lotta time, money and energy or have a very low Return On Investment [ROI].
Someone who is deliberate, has a clear strategy and attends 1 event will outperform someone who networks blindly at 5 similar events.
The Solution: when setting out to network, come up with a plan/strategy. Decide who you want to connect with and how you plan to connect/bond with them.
What would be a good outcome? Is it getting 5 potential clients? Or connecting with a particular influencer? Or making 3 new contacts?
When you have achieved your networking goals for the event, you can choose to leave or add extra goals. If you don’t hit your targets, you know where and how to improve or you can set more realistic expectations next time.
Tip: When networking for business, I recommend you attend events that your ideal clients/customers go to or attend events that industry influencers, people you want to collaborate with or people you want to add to your network go to. Then connect with them.
Join the waitlist for my upcoming masterclass here - It will help you get super intentional/deliberate about meeting people and networking so you don’t waste your time and energy
3. Not coming prepared
The problem: Networking without preparation can be disastrous. You end up missing a lot of opportunities because your phone died and you couldn't collect contact details or you end up feeling terribly out of place because everyone else is in a pair of jeans and you’re in suit or vice versa.
The Solution: Do your homework; find out what kind of even it is and who will be attending, then make sure you have tools to make connecting easy; pen, paper, notepad, business cards, fully charged phone.
Plan to do something that puts you in a good mood a few hours to stepping out to network.
Wear chic but comfortable clothes. You don’t want to be wearing a skirt that has you adjusting your sitting position ever few minutes because of an exaggerated slit.
Tip: I save my contacts to google, it just helps me never lose contact details even when I switch phones. I learnt that the hard way, after I lost of ton of contacts.
Input the information from business cards into my phone/google as quickly as possible and add a note/detail that will help you remember each person.
4. Using unprofessional email addresses
The Solution: Get a more professional sounding email address; [name][surname]@xmail.com works fine.
5. Monopolizing people/speakers
The problem: I don’t know about you but for me it’s really annoying when you go for an event and hope to connect with a speaker but find this one person holding up the line and talking to the speaker for 30 minutes, completely oblivious (or at least pretending to be oblivious) to the line of people waiting.
This is also super unfair to the speaker who probably has a line of people still waiting to talk to them.
The solution: If you do your research before the event or actively listen during the speaker’s presentation, you know what you’re going to say to them in two to five minutes. Make your point sharp, sharp! and gerroutta there!
Tip: Participate during the Q&A, it helps the speaker remember you and/or after the event, offer something of value in exchange for their contact details; ‘ I remember you mentioned you’re looking for a website guy, I know someone who’s really good. Do you have a business card so I can get his details across to you?’
6. Monopolizing the conversation
This is another big and common networking mistake.
The problem: A lot of people associate networking with talking…’he who talks more is king’…not!
I find that a lot of people don’t really listen. They just want the other person to pause long enough for them to speak and take over the conversation. There’s a proverb about your ears being closed while your mouth is open and I couldn’t agree more.
The solution: to network effectively, you will need to talk less and listen more, this can be done by asking questions. Do not completely shy away from talking because you want the other person to know what you do, how else can they ever become interested in you and what you do?
This is one of the reasons why I love to work with introvertes, the are naturals at listening more and talking less.
Tip: listen for ‘I need’, ‘I wish’, ‘I want’ that is how you know how to add value.
7. Not following up
The mistake: Ever heard the saying, ‘the money is in the follow-up’…it’s true BUT If you meet people and get a good vibe from them, bond but forget to collect contact details or follow up, they soon forget you.
Don’t make the mistake of giving out your contact details and assuming that the other person will call. Be the one to collect details and keep in touch.
The Solution: make it a habit to reach out to the people you connect with within 48 hours (max. 72 hours). Send a message that says ‘Hello [name], it was great to meet you at [place] [day; yesterday, today, on Monday].
If you forget to reach out within 72 hours, reach out anyway. Chances are, they probably won’t remember you, you may have to remind them of where you met or the conversation you had.
Tip: You want to collect phone numbers, email addresses, and social media handles, this makes it more difficult to ‘lose’ the person. Connect with them on social media within a week.
You also want to come up with a simple system for keeping in touch with the people in your network if not you find yourself in situations where you need things from people but can’t ask because you haven’t spoken to them in months or years.
8. Being the pompous know-it-all
This one get’s on my nerves big time!
Ever meet those people that not only give you unsolicited advice but go ahead to do so in the most pompous way? Or those ones who don't let you get a word in?…arrggghhh
I remember having a conversation with a lady at an event, she was so pompous…She asked me what I did for a living. I remember her bored look and tone, like it was yesterday.
She said , you’re just too young to be teaching people about networking, this is when you should be building your network’.
I was so annoyed at her, I tell you, I wanted to say
‘who told you I am not building my network? Have you really asked me about my business…if I have results with what I’m teaching, how long I’ve been networking…etc?
or you just wanted to let me know that you’re this all wise, all knowing elder (who is probably 5 years older than I am).
But I didn't say any of that. I just politely ended the conversation because she wasn't really listening to me, she had already made up her mind about who I was.
Years after, nothing will ever possess me to get in touch with her. Why?...simply put, she made me feel dumb and stupid.
I don’t want you to take the wrong lesson or get the wrong message from my story. Not everyone is your customer, not everyone will get or like what you do …and THAT’S OKAY! I’m sure there are things you don’t like too.
However, the problem lies with the TONE. Don’t put people down just because you can.
People may not remember your name but they’ll remember how you made them feel.
9. Being a wallflower
This is a typical introvert mistake; being in the corner on your phone, waiting for people to approach you. You lose a lot of networking opportunities by waiting for others to approach you mostly because 95% of people are waiting for the other person to make the first move.
And I didn't just pull that number out of my bum, while talking to hundreds and hundreds of people about networking, 95% of them said that even if they really wanted to talk to someone, they wouldn’t be the ones to break the ice. They would wait for the other person to start the conversation.
The Solution: I know it can be scary to put yourself out there and be the one to start conversations, which is why I have created a complete and simple step-by-step tutorial for you HERE.
If you’re attending a presentation or workshop, try to participate during the Q&A, it helps you stand out.
10. Being Unrealistic
The problem: If you attend a networking event and expect to get on-the-spot clients or jobs, you will be thoroughly disappointed.
How many times have you bought a product or service from someone you just met?
These things take time. Those relationships need to be nurtured.
The Solution: Go out with the intention to meet potential clients and find a way to nurture those relationships.
The same applies to social media, how many times have you bought a product or service from social media page you just came across?
Just because you put up your products on social media doesn’t mean people are going to buy it immediately. They like to know you care about their problem, you understand their problem and you can truly help with their problem before they purchase. People don’t want to waste their money. They want to know you’re not going to pack up overnight and leave them hanging.
This is another annoying mistake, spamming online and offline.
A lot of people look as networking as a way to give out as many business cards and flyers as possible, and what happens here is they end up passing their business card to everyone in the room without making a connection with anyone.
“Hello, my name is John, here’s my business card/flyer’...offline spamming.
Most of those cards/flyers end up on the floor or in the bin.
Online spamming might actually be more annoying.
If you’re in the habit of dropping random sales messages on people’s pages, please stop.
The Solution: Talk to people for a little while, be genuinely interested in them, listen then ask for their business cards/contact details.
Online - seek to connect with people individually or become the go-to person for adding value in an online community/group.
12. Dismissing people who don’t look important
The Problem: Dismissing people because they don’t seem important can make you lose out on opportunities. Just because you’re judged by your cover doesn’t mean you should do the same.
Ever head of gate keepers? If a receptionist or personal assistant doesn’t want you to see or meet their boss, there’s little you can do about it if you don’t know the boss personally or have their number.
It’s easier to get to high profile people through the people around them; friends, assistants, staff.
Don’t dismiss people because they are not wearing the most expensive clothes or because they don’t ‘look’ important.
The Solution: Get into conversations with people whether they look important or not and find out more about them and what they do.
13. Not having an elevator pitch
The problem: going with the flow or being vague when people ask you what you do. You are not your profession so avoid saying things like…I am a doctor/lawyer/marketer
If you have a strong elevator pitch, you can immediately catch people’s attention when you tell them what you do, some of which will turn out to be ideal clients. You will also remain memorable long after you’re gone.
The Solution: Use the formula, I help [your target market] do [product/service] so that [benefit].
You could also use a story when you’re asked what you do.
For example, ‘I am an introvert who used to very shy and found it scary and difficult to meet people/tell people about my business, now I help introverts avoid that challenge by teaching them to meet people/tell people about their business in an easy way that gets them interested.
Tip: practice your elevator pitch so you become more comfortable saying it.
14. Don’t interrupt and take over
The problem: Have you ever been talking to someone, just to have another person completely butt in and not only take over the conversation but leave you feeling left out?
You want to avoid, doing the same, be emotionally intelligent.
The Solution: If you join a conversation, make sure you don’t take it over, make sure you’re keeping all parties involved by asking all parties questions.
15. Not telling Friends & Family about your business
People have the idea that friends and family will never patronize them which is not true.
Your friends and family already know, trust and like you which means they are more inclined to buy from you than from a stranger.
Initially, friends and family may not know you’re really good at what you do, so you’ll need to show them you know your stuff.
Fix: A great way to let your friends and family know you’ve got skill is to share client testimonials with them, offer discounts or offer free consultations/samples if you’re just starting from scratch.
People also love to feel involved so involve them in your business process by telling them what you’re currently working on and asking for their advice to make it better. You get valuable feedback and clients in the process if this is done the right way.
And there you have it, folks.
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What’s your biggest takeaway? Comment below and let us know.