Common Networking Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes to networking, you always want to make sure you do it right so you can grow your business. However, knowing what to do is one thing; knowing what not to do is something else entirely.
You might think you’re doing everything right, but if you find you’re not making the connections you expected, then perhaps you have fallen into some of the network traps out there and didn’t even realize you had.
Here are some common networking mistakes and how you can avoid making them in the future.
Not Getting Help
Many people have a hard time asking others for help. Networking is all about making connections, though. People don’t know what you need unless you ask them.
Use whatever personal or professional network you have and ask them to help you. You need to be connected to the right people. The more people you have getting the word out about you, the better, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Not Maintaining Your Relationships
It’s very easy to fall out of touch with people. Maintaining contact with your current network and all of the people in it is going to help you grow.
Follow up with people – your mentors, colleagues, and other contacts – on a regular basis to see how they’re doing. Keep them up to date on you as well. Remember, don’t make it all about you; you will want them to know what you’re up to while also finding out what they’ve been up to.
Not Taking Advantage of Social Media
We live in a day and time where networking is really everything we do every single day. Social media has made it so easy to be connected to so many different people throughout the world, and if you’re not using this then you’re missing out on a great opportunity.
Start using LinkedIn to make professional connections. This isn’t the only social media platform you should be using, but it’s a great place to start and a way to get your name out there.
Not Making In-Person Connections
Yes, we are in a day and time where social media is super-important to networking, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop meeting people in person. You should never do that. You can’t do everything over the internet.
If your online connection is not local to you, then use a multitude of different technologies like Skype which are at your fingertips, to make the world a much smaller place and meet up with people on the other side of it.
Not Being Grateful
Gratitude goes a long way. When someone helps you in whatever way, being grateful will go a long way.
After having a conversation with someone in person or online, send them a quick thank you note for their time. It’s a small thing, but letting people know they are appreciated will go a long way and encourage them to want to speak with you again.
Not Making Sure It’s a Two-Way Street
When someone helps you out and makes a positive connection for you, then you have to be sure that you give back in some way. You especially can’t keep going back and asking for help without giving back in return.
If you can avoid making these common mistakes, then you should be able to create a large and successful network for your business.
Building your business with networking is important, but you need to make sure you do it right. To ensure that you do it correctly and don’t make common mistakes, here are the dos and don’ts of networking at local events.
• Thoroughly practice your thirty-second elevator pitch so you can get all of the points out that you need to express to people in just thirty seconds. It should be second nature, so when you meet people on the fly you can tell them what you’re all about.
• Social media is great, but so are face-to-face meetings. When your online contacts are in the area, plan time to meet face to face. Attend regular meet-ups in your area as well. Those face-to-face meetings are great for making connections.
• Have a good handshake. A handshake says a lot about a person. Make it a good, firm handshake.
• Always have your business cards at the ready. You really never know when you’re going to meet someone, so be sure you carry business cards with you at all times.
• If you make a promise, then be sure that you follow through on it. Follow up with the people that you meet. This is going to build those relationships you made nice and strong.
• Keep in touch. Have regular meetings with your network, and be sure to offer them your assistance when asking for their help on something. If you’re having an event, then invite the people in your network too.
• Ask for help. If you’re looking to expand your business, then you need people to help you get the word out. Make sure you ask your network to help you out with spreading the word on whatever you’re working on or whatever you need help with.
• Set goals. Having measurable goals in your networking will help keep you on track and get your business where you want it to be on a specific timeline.
• Be grateful. Saying thank you to your contacts will go a long way in showing your appreciation for what they have done for you.
• Find ways to give back to your network. This is a great way to show appreciation, but it also builds those relationships even stronger when you can help out those who have helped you. No one wants to feel used, so that’s why it’s so important to give back.
• Hard sell. If it’s the first time meeting someone, then you shouldn’t do a hard sell on your product. This should be a time of getting to know you and what you are all about, not about getting money out of someone for your product.
• Monopolize the time talking about yourself. You should be finding out about the person you’re meeting rather than telling them all about you. If you show interest in the other person, then they will be more interested in you as someone who listens.
• Drink too much. Give yourself a two-drink maximum when you’re networking. It will make sure that you are coherent when you talk, and that you don’t say anything you later wish you hadn’t.
What networking advice do you have for local events?
Networking is an important part of any business. You need to network if you want to grow your business. Networking in your local area can be especially important, as it gives you local connections in your community.
It can also be fun and puts you in touch with people who have an understanding of what it’s like to do business in the community that you are also doing business in.
If you’re unsure how to get started, here are five ways you can network in your community.
1.) Get Out There
This is probably the number one thing. Go out into your community and meet people and the other businesses that are out there, whether similar to yours or not. You can check if your town or city has a chamber of commerce to help you get together with some of the local businesses.
Go to fundraisers to meet people. Remember, this isn’t the place to be selling your business, but you can meet other people this way. Even just going out to the golf course or taking a crafting class is a great way to network and meet people with similar interests to you.
It doesn’t have to be a business relationship when you network with people. Anyone who is going to spread the word about your business is part of your network.
2.) Get a Second Look
When you meet someone at a special event or a fundraiser, you want to get a second look at them and see if they really are on the same page as you. You shouldn’t set up a cup of coffee meeting with everyone you meet, of course.
But for those that you feel you want a deeper connection with, go ahead and set up a plan then and there to meet up at the coffee shop in a few days or so, to get to know them better.
3.) Help Others in Your Network
Remember to help those out who you are in a networking relationship with. Don’t be greedy and always asking for help with your business. Offer to help out whenever you can so your network doesn’t feel like you’re using them and that you also contribute to them.
4.) Use Your Existing Network
Check out your current contacts. You might already have people you can network with locally that will help you grow your business. They might also have a network that could be beneficial to you to help grow your business.
5.) Maintain Those Relationships
Don’t lose track of your network. You want to have about 5-10 strategic relationships that you are always checking in on and nurturing. Make sure you interact regularly and that it’s as good for them as it is for you, so in the end, they are coming back for more with you.
Remember to always re-evaluate your network and your needs, and perhaps even the needs of the people you have in your network. However, if you find that someone is being too needy, it might be worthwhile for you to cut that person loose.
Don’t burn bridges in the process, but do be mindful of what you are in need of in the here and now from people, and what you’re capable of giving to them.