Mary McKenna calls the following no nos “Cardinal Sins!” That is probably an understatement. Here they are:
1. Not following up on an introduction someone has made for you or a business lead that someone has given you. A lack of follow-up is – in my opinion – the #1 mistake many networkers make. No follow-up and you most likely will miss out of the business that may have been yours. Always follow-up in a timely manner – at least within the next two days – when they are most likely to remember you.
2. Mixing up networking and selling – Never, ever pitch to a new introduction unless you’ve been specifically invited to. NEVER MAKE A SALES PITCH AT A NETWORKING FUNCTION! You will be perceived only negatively as gauche, pushy, needy, desperate, insensitive, inexperienced or worse. Those perceptions aren’t going to help you make any new friends and certainly will not make a good first impression. It is much easier to make a good first impression than it is to fix a bad one. Networking events are not prospecting events, they are relationship building events. Instead of selling, position yourself as being a resource to others. Serve don’t sell. Believe me that will get you more attention.
“It takes about 200 times the information to undo a [bad] first impression than it takes to make [a good] one,” says Devora Zack, author of “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” and president of Only Connect Consulting, a career consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
“The value of networking isn’t in the potential of an on-the-spot sale – it’s the relationship.” ~ Veronika (Ronnie) Noize
There are other no nos like, arriving late to a meeting, being vague about what you do, sipping more social lubricant than you should, being a wall-flower, beginning your conversations with a cry for help, asking for a recommendation without giving the relationship enough time to mature, passing out business cards to anyone and everyone or forgetting to bring business cards, etc., but the above top two frost me the most. For your own sake, be sure that you are not guilty of either one.
Take the focus off yourself at networking functions. Put it where it belongs, on the other person, and you will increase your chances for success at these events. Networking is about making long-lasting relationships. Focus intently on the conversation you’re having. After you’ve grabbed a business card and stepped away, jot down a few things that will help you jog your memory when you follow up with them later. Be curious and genuinely interested in other people. Take time to get to know people and talk to them properly when you meet them, chat until you find commonality, don’t be rushing on to the next person at the event.
Remember why you are there. Your main concern should be in building relationships.
The top two networking no-no’s are just a few of all the mistakes that people make at networking events. You are invited to leave some of your favorites in the comments below.
Larry’s Note: A special “Thank you” to Mary McKenna for the inspiration for this article.
Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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