Networking….the term is used to describe everything from business card exchanges to social media outreach. Personally, I don’t really like the word “networking.” I much prefer phrases such as relationship-building or connecting. To me, those seem to better describe what I am actually trying to accomplish.
But I digress…
For today’s post, I wanted to share what I believe are the top 5 mistakes people make while at a “networking” event….
1. Handing cards out to everyone in the room. Besides being rude, you are presuming that the person to whom you gave your card wanted it in the first place. Imagine if everyone at every networking event gave everyone else their business card. That would be an awful lot of business cards that ended up in trash cans in offices everywhere. Good rule of thumb: don’t give your card to anyone until they ask for it. If they ask for it, chances are that you’ve impressed them enough to continue a dialogue.
2. Talking too much. There is an old proverb that says “take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” My mother had a more direct way of putting it: “shut up and listen.” It is impossible to talk and listen at the same time. Don’t believe me? Tune in to the next Republican Presidential Debate. The point is that relationship-building is achieved only when you truly understand what another person is all about. Listening to what they have to say will help you uncover needs, suggest solutions, and earn trust and respect.
3. Talking about yourself too much. Consider this an extension of #2 above. Newsflash…..no one cares what you do or how you can help them until they’ve gotten to know and trust you. So instead of talking about what you do for the entire conversation, ask the other person(s) to tell you a little about them. How did they get their start in their business? What are their hobbies? What are their passions? Get the other person talking….a lot.
4. Pre-Judging. So many opportunities are lost by professionals who assume that someone won’t ever do business with them. The truth is that the other person may not have any need for the services you provide; however, if you write him off, you are also writing off any chance of building relationships with the people he knows….people that may have a need for what you offer.
5. Not being likable. If people don’t like you, they will never do business with you. Period. Even if you have all the experience under the sun….if you come off as arrogant, snotty, stuck-up, etc., you’ll never earn business. So be likable! Be genuine and pleasant. But spend much more time learning about other people’s successes than you do telling them about all of your accolades and accomplishments.
These are my top 5….please share your thoughts by commenting on the post. We can all learn from each other.
Have a great weekend!