5 Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid

Tags – Networking Mistakes to Avoid

Networking is a fantastic way to build connections and valuable relationships in and across industries. But it’s not always as easy as it seems.

Love it or hate it, networking must be a part of your business plan to seek opportunities to grow your business.

In fact, networking should be a part of your long term sales and marketing strategy focused on building relationships not sales.

After all, the relationships you gain from networking can provide the support, feedback, insights and access to resources you need to tackle existing and unforeseen challenges.

To get the most out of your networking efforts, here are 5 common mistakes to avoid:

1. Talking Too Much About Yourself

Yes, you’re networking for yourself. But so is everyone else.

Just like you, when people are looking to grow their network they want to gain something from their new connection.

Unfortunately, if you talk too much about yourself, the person on the receiving end is going to be covered in word vomit, probably thinking to themselves, “who even is this person?” and will probably want to make a quick exit.

With that in mind, don’t just jump straight into a sales pitch and fall into the trap of telling them everything about your business.

Rather, you want to find out about the other person as much as you can to figure out how and if you can help each other and decide whether or not the relationship is worth building.

But this can only be achieved if you take a little step back and actually listen: you have 2 ears and 1 mouth remember!

2. Focusing on Quantity over Quality

If you’re attending networking events, zooming around the room handing out as many business cards as you can – stop it! You’re not trying to win an award for “Most Business Cards Delivered” – it doesn’t exist.

However, what you are trying to win is forming the most relevant and valuable connections: it’s all about quality over quantity.

Instead of handing your business cards to just anyone without any thought behind it, focus on only talking to those people you have commonalities with to build a relationship. This can even be as simple as similar personalities or interests, as long as there’s something.

And, after the first few minutes if you’ve realised that there’s not really much value they can add for you, politely move on: you don’t want to waste anyone’s time or waste your own.

3. Not Following Up 

When you’re running a business, you’re busy. There’s no doubt about that.

And often, things that don’t require immediate attention get pushed down the bottom of the list.

But with networking – timing is everything. If you fail to follow up in a timely manner, that great conversation you had was a waste of time.

Think about it – if someone reached out to you 3 months after a networking event, would you remember them as clearly as you would if they reached out to you within a couple of days?

The same applies the other way round. Instead of leaving potential prospects or clients scratching their heads, trying to remember who you are, be sure to follow up within 24 hours, letting them know it was a pleasure to meet them and that you’d love to continue the conversation in the future. And even though this conversation may happen a few months later, following up immediately will make all the difference.

4. Letting the Other Person Control the Conversation 

It’s a little difficult to stop letting the other person control the conversation without coming across as rude or abrupt.

Consequently though, be too polite and your conversation quickly becomes a friendly chat, so it’s important to know how to network effectively to get the most out of it.

To begin with, when the initial introductions have been made use your initiative to steer the conversation by asking probing questions.

By doing this, you’ll be in more control and get a better understanding about their business and where the potential value lies.

5. Not Having a Clear Objective 

You should get the idea by now: networking is about building valuable relationships.

However, you should have a clear objective in mind by following 3 criteria; know, like and trust.

Let’s break this down…

  • Know: It sounds obvious, but really getting to know our contact first is the most important part of relationship building. Ask open-ended questions like, how did you get into this business? What type of businesses are you looking for? Essentially, you want to ask questions that don’t require a simple yes or no answer and this first step is all about visibility.
  • Like: Now they know you exist, the second step is where rapport building comes in; you want them to like you. Remember though, not everyone is going to like you and that’s OK. Compare this to marketing, for example, if everyone likes you then you’re marketing to everyone, and if you’re marketing to everyone, you’re basically marketing to no one – makes sense right? So, be yourself and let your personal brand shine. How you can do that? Find out here, in our video:

  • Trust: If you really want people to invest in you, they need to trust you – it’s more than just knowing who you are and liking you. To achieve this, it all falls down to the core principles of building a great brand: being consistent, being clear in your communication and having a compelling message.

The Bottom Line

If the above mistakes sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone. But now, you should have a better understanding of how to network effectively and avoid these mistakes to build relationships that will add value to your business.

Above all, always be your true self and show genuine interest in the people you meet, demonstrate how you can help them and more importantly, don’t solely focus on selling.

Please get in touch to find out more.

In addition, we made a YouTube video on Networking, that you can watch here.

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