Networking Mistakes to Avoid.
Networking is an essential element of being successful in business today, but it is easier to slip up than you might imagine. Here are some networking etiquette faux pas to steer clear of.
Asking before you offer something
Networking is a two-way street. If you make a connection and almost immediately ask for a favour, you are destined to most likely have your requests turned down or have future connects judge you (and stay away) on the basis of this reputation.
You need to build and nurture the relationship, offering up something from your side before you tap into the connection for your benefit. Always give, before you take. You need to be more selfless when networking and your contacts will see you have their best interests at heart. Over time this will translate into introductions, referrals and references, based on the trust you have nurtured.
Not acknowledging help
If someone helps you out, whether it was a favour you had requested or even if it was unsolicited, always remember to acknowledge this support. For you to build a lasting fruitful connection, the other person must feel like they are appreciated for going out of the way for you.
It could be an introduction to someone who could use your service, a vendor who may be the right partner for you, or even someone in the industry you could benefit from knowing. Always, acknowledge this help.
Not showing respect for their time
When it comes to networking, you need to put your best professional foot forward. Showing up late, or cancelling on an appointment is all bad form. Even if you have an immediate business deal, be sure to personally call and explain why you have to reschedule and then later thank them for accommodating you.
Always remember to thank a new connection (and old ones too), for taking time out to meet with you – even if it was just a cup of coffee and no business deals were struck.
Ignoring online networking
While the old school of thought believed offline face-to-face meetings build stronger connects, that isn’t necessarily true any more. Online networking tools make it easier to stay constantly connected and maintain fulfilling conversations on an ongoing basis.
While you may not be able to schedule meetings with your network often enough offline, thanks to email and inbox messaging tools on professional social networks, you can keep them posted and engage in casual conversation from time to time online.
Not knowing (and improving) yourself
Networking is also about showing off the best version of yourself. Dress well and in attire appropriate for the occasion. Work on your shortcomings. Enrol for training which helps you discover anything in your personality, manner or approach that could be an obstacle in being an effective networker. Then work at improving that weak point.
Aiming for too many
While you may need to reach out to hundreds of people before you strike it lucky with some, it is hard to keep up meaningful associations with all of them. Prioritise and see who is likely to make the best long-term connect.
Can you offer them something they will see as useful? Could you some day introduce each other to contacts the other would find helpful? Once you zero in on these connections in your network, work at staying connected to them.
Punching above your weight
While it may be tempting to try and reach out to the who’s who of the industry, step back and think about it for a minute. Is there really anything you will be able to offer a Fortune 500 CEO that his network cannot?
Is it likely to be a dead-end relationship, doomed before it even begins? Save yourself a lot of time by evaluating a prospective connection before you reach out. Be realistic and don’t gun for the big guns! Your ‘people to contact’ shortlist isn’t a wish list.
Are you being the best version of you at networking events?
Are you building a credible reputation within your industry?
And that’s the Dish. Until next time, Belinda.
I am Belinda Bow
I love all things marketing and I thrive on seeing a business become re-energised and flourish. I am excited about life and I adore my family.
Within these articles, you’ll find some helpful tips and some real guidance to help you make the most of your business, and gain a good understanding of all things marketing.