We’ve all been there. We’ve all been the subjected to or seen these mistakes in person.
I know I have and it’s not necessarily a pleasant experience, so I wanted to share a few observations I’ve seen and noted over the years that I’ve been networking in business circles. Hopefully you don’t experience these feelings of uncertainty and you leave with a heightened awareness that will help you avoid making them in the future.
So here is my take on the the 6 mistakes to avoid when you are networking:
Disengaging When Their Pitch is Over
Whether in person, at face to face meetings or online, I see people engaged up to the point of delivering their 60 second pitch and as soon as it’s done, they switch off and aren’t interested in anyone else’s pitch. To be honest, I find this simply rude and insulting. I’m a voracious listener at meetings and I absolutely get that not everyone has the same attention span or ability to absorb information, but there are tips and tricks to help you along. Having a pad and pen to hand is a good start. By making notes, not only does it focus your mind, but it leaves you with an aide memoire to action points, to do lists or valuable information about the person and the businesses you have been listening to. It’s a sign of respect.
Turning Up Because You Were Told To
Only turn up because the boss told you to. You’ll be in the wrong mindset and unsure of what to expect and how to manage the situation. If you are new to networking, chat with someone who has extensive networking experience who can offer some guidance and help you set a plan. By having a networking plan, it will set you on the right path to success. You can also reach out to me for some tips and tricks on how best to manage the situation and get the most out of attending your networking events.
Only Turning Up Occasionally When You Have Something New To Sell
I see many people who only turn up because they have something new to sell, be it a course, an event, a new product, but otherwise, they aren’t present and uninterested in the rest of the group. I don’t find this authentic and in my opinion, it’s unthoughtful and disrespectful to the people who make the effort to turn up every week or every month (depending on the frequency of the networking meetings).
Actively Looking for Someone Else To Talk To
My ‘day job’ is managed print services with Highline Office Technology. We specialise in all things printers, copiers, scanners, information and print management software, etc. When people ask me what I do, I often get the glazed look and people are looking for someone ‘better’ or ‘more interesting’ to talk to. The default reaction is ‘I don’t need a printer’ or I’ve even heard, I don’t know anyone who needs a printer! This is not what networking is about. Networking is getting to know people who can help open up their network to help you, if you spend the time building up the relationship with them. We’ll talk more about this in future blogs.
Expecting to Get New Customers Immediately
Many people come into a network looking for immediate business and leave frustrated and disenfranchised when this doesn’t happen as they haven’t really understood what networking is all about. They try to get as many business cards distributed as their badge of honour and try to collect as many as possible with a view to adding people to a database in order to spam them with offers. To be very clear: this is NOT networking.
Selling at the Networking Meeting
Often I come across people who only come to sell, sell, sell. Please avoid this. Networking meetings are not for selling, they are for meeting people with whom you can develop a relationship. I love learning about companies, about what makes them tick, what’s new, but I don’t want to be sold to when I’m networking. It makes people feel uncomfortable and it also means you aren’t in listening mode to find out about the other person’s business. You aren’t in a mindset of thinking ‘how can I help this person today?’
Through the various blogs that I write, I’ll work to dissect the various aspects of networking, to say what works, what doesn’t work, my realisations and my tips for doing it better. I learn every day. And I network every day. Some would say networking is a finite activity. I would argue that it’s an infinite activity. The ‘who’ we need in our network will change as our lives and businesses morph, evolve and as we grow…this will mean requiring different support systems in our network.