Any entrepreneur knows that making the right connections is vital for business growth. Networking is a valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from others, acquire new clients, and increase brand awareness.
However, too often we’ve come across people making networking mistakes based on flawed guidance they received from others. These mistakes damage their credibility and cause them to lose potential leads.
Read on to discover the worst pieces of networking advice we’ve ever heard and what to do instead to network effectively:
“Talk to Everyone”
When it comes to networking, having a “the more the merrier” mentality is one of the worst things you could do.
As a business owner, time is your most precious resource and cannot be wasted. So if you're speaking to electrical engineers when you work in the food industry, you're probably not allocating your time wisely. Consider your goals and target your efforts towards connections that will help you achieve them.
“Keep the Conversation Focused on You”
People love to talk about what they know. When you give them the opportunity to do so they will come to trust you, show interest back, and remember you fondly. Ask in-depth questions and demonstrate interest in what they say, then follow up with educated responses to show you were listening.
Use questions from this Forbes article to help you forge solid partnerships.
“Have a Special Networking Persona”
If you’re not being true to yourself, you’ll be basing relationships on a lie. Additionally, people pick up when you’re not sincere and no one wants to do business with someone who’s dishonest. Not to mention, having a special networking front is exhausting, stressful, and utterly painful.
Being yourself will boost your confidence, lead to authentic interactions, help you make a better, more accurate impression, and attract the right people. Don’t try to be the person you think others want to meet. Relax, play to your natural strengths, and show the real you to build genuine relationships that will pay dividends.
“Rely Solely on Social Media”
Although relationships made on social platforms have great value, they do not replace face-to-face networking.
In-person communication helps showcase your personality, pick up on people’s mannerisms, build trust, avoid misunderstandings, and cultivate a real sense of a shared mission.
Attend trade shows, exhibitions, and industry conferences, and ask friends to introduce you to relevant connections so you can meet and interact with new people.
“Swap Business Cards with Everyone”
Trading cards with every Tom, Dick, and Harry will lead to countless exchanges that lead nowhere. Make sure you have a good reason to exchange cards and aim to trade them with people you’ve spent time talking with, whose passions you understand, and whose goals align with yours.
By following this approach, your business card swaps will more likely lead to successful follow-ups.
“It’s all About the Event”
A networking event is just the starting point for new professional relationships. Following-up is the key to developing them.
To leave a lasting impression, send a quick email, set up a coffee date, or connect on LinkedIn in the 24 hours following your initial meeting. Use these follow-up email templates from HubSpot to help you effectively reach out to new contacts.
To take advantage of networking’s full potential, avoid these blunders and focus on building meaningful relationships with the right people who can provide real value for your business.
Do you have any great networking tips? Share them with us in the comments below!