Here are a few networking mishaps that I have observed in the many networking groups I have spoken to and visited. You are encouraged to list mishaps you have noticed in the comments section.
1. Skipping over the “build the relationship first” step. Networking is about developing close, personal and business relationships. It’s important to understand that networking is first about building long-lasting business relationships that – after the relationship is established – the referrals will come.
2. Being a taker and not a giver. I speak at and attend a lot of networking meetings and the biggest complaint I hear is, “I never get any leads/referrals.” My first question is, “Are you ‘giving’ any referral” Remember, networking and selling DO NOT mix! Think of yourself as a solution-finder, rather than a sales person. Be of assistance to others. “How can I help you?” is a great question to ask everyone you meet. View networking as a way to be a resource for others and maybe gain a few clients along the way.
3. Assume Social Media creates connections. Twitter followers, Facebook friends, and LinkedIn connections are great – if you do something with those connections. In all likelihood your Twitter followers aren’t reading your tweets. Your Facebook friends rarely visit your page. Your LinkedIn connections aren’t checking your updates. Tools provide a convenient way to establish connections, but to maintain those connections you still have to meet them face-to-face. (A special “Thank you” to Jeff Haden for this reminder).
4. Being a card shark. Handing out your business card to everyone who crosses your path makes only a cardboard connection! Force-feeding your card on everyone you meet is not the best idea. First, determine that YOU have an interest in helping them and second, make sure there is a solid connection before you offer your card. The experienced networker will often take notes about the conversation on the back of your card if they are interested in your product or service. I watch for that. When someone writes on the back of my card while I am talking to them, I make sure to get their card and follow up with them because they could be very interested in me or my business. It’s best to wait for someone to request your card before giving it. If you offer your card too early when you first meet, you may appear too forward or pushy.
5. Not being attentive. When you are talking with someone at a networking function, listen to what they are saying. If you are simply not interested, be polite and move on. Looking over someone’s shoulder for someone else in the room to talk with is RUDE! Pay attention. There is the potential for opportunity in everyone you meet. If you want to call attention to yourself, you must pay attention to others!
6. Non-effective follow up. Re-connecting with people in your group or shortly after you meet a new member, sends the message that you serious about a relationship, proactive and willing to invest the time and effort to get to know them. Building a relationship with a new contact begins with setting up a time to get together to learn more about each other and each other’s businesses. Notice I listed the personal side first. It’s important to be friends. Friends are people we come to like and trust which is an absolute for successful networking. Without following up to promote another opportunity to interact, a relationship can never develop.
7. Joining more than one networking group. If you are like me, I often network with other people outside of my networking group as long as they are “not in competition with someone in my group.” Loyalty to “one” networking group is very important. I do not recommend being a member of more than one small networking group for that very reason… loyalty. Let’s say you belong to two networking groups. What happens when you come upon a referral that could be given to a plumber and you have to decide which of the two plumbers to give the referral to? Some would say both. I say, to whom do you owe your higher allegiance? The question becomes who deserves your loyalty? Honestly… you shouldn’t have to choose. The solution is to belong to only one group.
Networking has helped to make my businesses a success. Yes, I made lots of mistakes when I first began networking, but thanks to great networkers like Anne Boe (deceased), Bob Burg, Donna Fisher, Ivan Misner and many others, they helped me get on the right track.
Who is your Networking Mentor?
Copyright © 2015 – 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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