I’m sure you already know how building a strong network positively impacts your business’ growth.
Beyond having a strong professional network to rely on for sales or to help you land your next opportunity, connections with others are essential for our overall health and well-being.
According to research from the U.S. Health and Retirement Study, individuals who self-identify as being isolated are more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses or experience depression than those who identify as well-connected.
But let’s face it: whether you’re a young manager just breaking into an industry or a seasoned business owner searching for your next client, networking can be difficult.
Not to worry.
We’ve curated 8 common networking mistakes to avoid to help you make meaningful connections with people who will lift you up.
What Mistakes Do People Make When Networking?
MISTAKE #1 PRIORITIZING SALES OVER RELATIONSHIPS
It’s a rookie mistake.
When attending events such as Business Network International, you are not just there as a sales person but a representation of your company.
Don’t try to sell yourself or your services, make true connections.
The key to successful networking and the ultimate factor in improving your networking skills is to adopt a relationship over sale mindset.
By focusing on meeting people and building a relationship first before making them a prospect, you get to truly understand a few things:
- Whether or not they are your right customer
- Exactly what their motivation for being there is
- How can you provide value for them
MISTAKE #2 EXPECTING INSTANT RESULTS
Nobody likes being sold too.
If you begin your networking with high expectations then you are not only setting yourself up for failure but you are also going to oversell to the people there.
Stop seeing networking events as a solution for your business and see it as a way to build relationships with people. This could come in handy in the future.
Either ways, you’ve gained an ally.
The famous marketing specialist Dan Lok once said, “If you are not getting enough clients, you don’t have a networking problem – you have a marketing problem.”
MISTAKE #3 FAILING TO PLAN
Not planning is a common mistake when it relates to networking.
You build your business by setting your long and short term goals. You itemize the tasks that will get you there and you budget resources accordingly.
This also relates to networking.
To improve your chances of creating sustainable relationships, ask yourself these questions;
- Who is attending? What professions will be there?
- What potential connections can they make for us?
- What is the purpose or focus of the meeting so the approach can be determined beforehand?
Example, by figuring out that the majority of the attendees will be male bankers, you can avoid the failure of promoting your maternity store.
MISTAKE #4 TALKING TOO MUCH
If you don’t blow your own trumpet, who will? Right?
This can get in the way of making friendships with people because talking excessively makes us come off as self-centered and obnoxious.
If the aim is to get meaningful relationships started for your business then look back and ask yourself how you were able to get your first friend.
The key to being a good friend is being a good listener.
That translates to talking less about yourself and inquiring more about the person you are talking too.
“People care about you caring more about them than they do about the great opportunity that you have”, Eric Woore, The Network Marketing Pro.
MISTAKE #5 NOT TALKING TO ANYONE
Networking events can be intimidating. Especially when you don’t know anyone there.
It could be your first time talking to others in the industry and all you can think about is where her confidence comes from to hold a conversation with two, three, four people at a time.
You aren’t there to make friends but to create new connections with the right people.
Your expectations are low, allowing you to be nimble and flexible in your approach.
It’s ok to make some mistakes. The important thing is learning from them .
Also, you came with a plan. Majority of the other people felt too overconfident to make one so you got the leg up on them.
MISTAKE #6 NETWORKING WITHOUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD
Karen from www.furiarubel.com got it right when she said, “the business card represents your company’s brand”.
Sarge Clan has understood this for many years because we know that it is an essential element for networking that could create that lasting impression or get it thrown in the bin.
Take this scenario. You are talking to someone, it is going well, and they ask you what business are you into.
Since the goal is to not talk too much, what other method of explaining can describe your brand in as few words as possible?
In one second your hand is in your suit pocket or your purse and you pull out a professionally designed card that shows all the contact info they need and the first impression of your brand identity.
Don’t make the mistake of leaving it at home or forgetting it. It’s important to keep a few on you at all times because you never know who you’ll bump into.
MISTAKE #7 ENDING A CONVERSATION PREMATURELY
There is such a thing as a graceful exit.
Sadly, it is too common an occurrence to abruptly end a conversation and dart straight to the next potential connection.
It doesn’t matter whether he isn’t the right fit or not. It is rude.
Therefore, you need to develop the skill of easing out of the conversation so as to not leave a bad impression.
Here are a few tricks I use to get out of a conversation without being rude:
- Look behind them to let them know your focus has shifted.
- Remain completely silent when they talk so they will run out of things to say.
- Ask them to repeat the last thing they said politely so they know you are not interested in the conversation anymore.
- When the conversation has ended give them your full attention, smile, and give and excuse to leave.
Don’t forget to give a short wave before you leave.
MISTAKE #8 NOT FOLLOWING UP
After going through the process of making a plan, making good connections and even exchanging business cards, don’t make the common mistake of not following up.
You might feel like it’s a bit aggressive or pushy but it’s not.
At Sarge Clan, we help businesses like yours stand out to their target audience through corporate branding solutions. We can do the same for you.
Click this link to request a free consultation.