Networking fails you can avoid
Giving your card out to everyone
When it comes to networking, it’s about quality, not quantity. Take time to talk to people and then only give them your card if you really think you can be beneficial for one another. Turning up to a networking session and giving your card to everyone gives the impression you don’t really care about finding a strong network. Remember, it’s not a competition.
Not being humble! (Be open to everyone)
Conversely, allies and connections can be made in the strangest places sometimes! Don’t write off someone because you don’t think they look like someone you’d normally work with, they might have a vital connection that you need! Everyone is a potential connection – take the time to talk to everyone and find out their story before deciding on whether to give them your card.
Talking about yourself too much
You’re attending a networking event to find people you can work and do business with – so ask them! Find out about what they do, and what they are hoping to find - it’s far more useful to you. It’s also much politer and helps you come across as friendly from the outset making it more likely that they’ll do business with you.
Talking overly-negative about other companies! (your competitors or theirs)
Going into a networking session and actively bashing an industry because you’ve had a bad experience with one company in that industry is unprofessional, and certainly doesn’t show you, and your business in a good light.
Talking negatively about your own competitors is also unprofessional and has the opposite psychological effect on the person you’re talking to; it plugs the name of your competitor to the person you’re trying to pitch to work with you!
Waiting to build your network until you need it – start now!
Constantly network – it should become a good habit you practice almost every day. Always be open to it even in non-typical networking settings as you never know when you’ll meet someone who could be a positive influence for your business. If you wait to network until you need it, it’s too late! Networking is about building professional relationships and connections and those can’t be rushed into just because you happen to need something right away.
Having incorrect contact details on your business card
This sounds basic but can be destroying if you happen to get it wrong. Misprints happen sometimes so check carefully that your business cards etc. have your up to date phone number, correct web address (especially if you have a non-standard web domain i.e. .co .org .biz) and any other details you may use.
Failing to follow up
Keep your connections fresh and memorable by sending a note to check-in once in a while. This can be a thank you note after meeting, an update on your progress based on advice you got from the connection, a relevant article about industry news or events, a congratulatory note after a major event in that person’s life, and so on.
If you make a new connection that could be a potential new client, follow up in the next couple of days to keep that relationship going and to avoid them forgetting who you are and how they can benefit from your services.
Build your network now and you'll be grateful for it later - there are some whopping statistics about how much business is done through referrals at networking events.
You can try out four networking companies for free at the Northern Business Expo in March, participate in some speed networking run by Dell Small Business, and apply for the exclusive Networking Breakfast! There's even a Wall of Connections to make sure you don't miss out on any connections that could be made. It's free to attend, at Manchester Central on 17th & 18th March. Get your free ticket now!