We’ve all made mistakes when we’ve been out networking. I’ve put together a list of just five things you should never do at a networking event. Are you guilty of any of them? I know I’ve sometimes done the first one when I didn’t have anyone to talk to, so I try to make a conscious effort to avoid it now.
- Spend too much time on your phone. It’s easy to either get distracted by emails or feel self-conscious that nobody is speaking to you, so you get your phone out to avoid looking as if nobody likes you! This habit is counterproductive as it defeats the point of networking if you don’t speak to people! If you do find yourself on your own, my top tip is to ask the host to introduce you to someone or approach a group of three or more and just ask if you can join them. I’ve yet to come across anyone who has said ‘no’!
- Rush around trying to meet everyone and not spend any quality or meaningful time with anyone. Ask yourself whether it’s more helpful to have thirty business cards or have arranged two follow up calls or meetings with people you really want to connect with. Do you really remember everyone you spoke to? If you don’t remember them, will they remember you?
- Forget to find out about people, what they do and how you might be able to help them or how they can help you because you are busy talking at them rather than with them. It’s easy to dominate a conversation because you love your business and want to tell everyone about it, but if you talk too much people will switch off because they want to tell YOU about THEIR business instead!
- Book onto events and then not turn up. If you can’t attend something you have booked onto, at least contact the organisers and let them know. Not turning up can damage your reputation if you do it regularly as you will appear unreliable. Networking is an important part of your business, so make a schedule, use good time management and stick to it!
- Don’t spam everyone you’ve met after you get home. Apart from probably breaking GDPR regulations, nobody wants to go on your monthly email list without being asked. They also don’t want to receive a standard ‘nice to meet you, buy my stuff’ email. If you are sending a follow up, make sure you give people a good reason to get in touch with you and make the email specific and personal. An example might be, “It was great to meet you at Coffee and Natter on Thursday and it would be lovely if you could connect me to your friend who designs business cards. If you’d like to meet for coffee sometime, I could tell you a bit more about the online courses we talked about. I’m free next Wednesday and Thursday so let me know if either day suits you.” You need to make people want to connect with you again, so think about whether your communication really does that.
Once you’ve mastered these five things, you can start to really prepare your networking strategy so that you can win more clients and build relationships through professional networking.
If you want to book a half hour slot to discuss your networking strategy either in person or via Zoom and make sure you are getting the most out of networking, please get in touch.