To grow your business, don’t make these six networking mistakes:
1. Handing Out a Business Card for No Reason
Has anyone handed you a business card as part of their introduction, or because they simply didn’t know what else to do? Have you ever done that? Always have a good reason to collect, ask for, or exchange business cards—to send information, to make an introduction, to follow up for a future meeting, or to be added to a mailing list (only if requested).
2. Not Being Likeable
It’s never good form to complain about the economy, a tough year, your clients, politics, the system or pretty much anything else. If you must talk about something negative, then discuss the positive steps you’re taking to adapt, overcome, improvise or whatever. Bragging about your success, smarts, and good looks doesn’t bode well either. Be likeable. Be humble about your success and excited about the success of others. Ask great questions of those you meet and be interested in what they have to say. If you are interested, you will appear more interesting. Make most conversations about the other person. If they’re likeable, they will do the same.
3. Going to the Wrong Event
Do your homework before showing up to an event. Going to the wrong types of events is a waste of time, money, and it can be discouraging. If you know your purpose in attending an event, it will put the event itself in perspective. I recently attended a networking event that was started by a friend from a client firm. Although the event didn’t focus on my target market, I attended to see friends and reconnect with people. I was also there to support a newcomer. Business was not my primary focus; if it was, it may have not been the right event. If you know your purpose, you’ll have a better understanding of where to go, what to say and with whom
4. Being in Sales Mode
The folks you meet at mixers, networking groups, clubs, golf outings, cocktail parties, etc. are not your prospects so you shouldn’t be looking to sell them anything. The only thing you should be selling is the relationship. If you can develop a great relationship, over time you can refer each other business, and that’s what networking is all about.
5. Being Unprepared
Do you know how many attendees will be at the event? What are some of their professions? What are they looking for? How long has the group been established? How many members, visitors, guests? Who is the coordinator of the event? Are you interested in membership? If so, why? If not, why not? Who do you know and who do you want to know? What will you say as you introduce yourself to others? What will you say when they approach you? How will you interact? What will you do to have great conversations? Follow up? Stay in touch? In essence: what will you do to prepare yourself with answers to all of these questions?
6. Lacking Focus
One of the most common mistakes I see with financial advisers and business owners is a lack of focus. The more focused you are with your networking, the more effective you will be. Most people I meet at events are looking to meet small business owners. But what does that mean? Try to be more specific. What type of small business? Revenues? Size of staff? What industry, profession, market segment, niche, demographic, geography, dynamic, etc.? If you’re focused on the same small businesses as everyone else, it’s much more difficult to be remembered and referred.
Building Blocks Consulting LLC