Top five networking no-no’s
Networking is a powerful and productive way to build professional relationships and generate new business opportunities. It's a reciprocal process based on the exchange of ideas, advice, contacts and referrals. There is no one-size fits all approach to network.
Done well, networking increases clients, builds lasting relationships and improves sales. Done poorly, costs you sales, decreases referrals and produces dismal results for your business.
The reason people fail at networking is that they have never been taught how to do it properly.
Here are the top 5 networking mistakes and faux pas people still make:
1. Handing out business cards before introducing yourself - Networking isn't about one-way advertising; it's about building and growing relationships. Don't just push your business card at people and hope they'll be enamored by you and want to do business. People form relationships with people, not with business cards. It's not about the amount of cards you collect it's about the quality people you connect with.
2. Monopolize the conversation - When you meet someone for the first time, do you ramble on about your business, or do you ask about theirs? Do you find out a little more about what they do instead of hogging the conversation for you? Asking about their business and getting in their world is a good way to stop this bad networking behavior. It's important to engage with others in order to build strong connections.
3. Being phony - Everyone knows when someone is "schmoozing" them. No one likes a head nodding phony with a half smile that only appears to be interested. There is a big difference between acting interested and being genuinely interested. When you're interested in learning about another person and their business, you will leave a lasting impression.
4. Adding people to your mailing list without permission - It amazes me how many people think that it's okay to start sending you their newsletter and/or promotional emails, just because you gave them your business card. If you want to put someone on your list, you must ask their permission first. Send them an email asking if they would like to receive your newsletter. Let them know it is okay to decline.
5. Not listening - Most people can tell when another person is tuning them out. Being a good listener is the sign of a great networker. If you want the same courtesy, you must listen to the other person. This is the law of reciprocity at its finest. When someone is speaking, give that person your entire focus and really hear what they are saying. The greatest gift that you can give to another person is to listen and truly hear their words.
It's not what you know, or even who you know - it's how well you know the people you're meeting and how well they know you that really matters in building a powerful network.