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10 mistakes you are making when networking

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Trying to schmooze your way into securing new clients and contracts can be a thankless task. Identifying the kind of people these important contacts are and how to please them is methodical, but also requires a bit of social awareness on your part. The manner with which you present yourself can break a conversation even if what you offer is the best that person could get. Style has to take some credit over substance. When networking, there are some behaviours and tricks you should definitely avoid.

1) Card overload

Business cards are a quick, disposable and cold way of making a connection. No matter how aesthetically pleasing you make them, they are still devoid of personality compared to the person who gives them. You should have more of an impression to give than a piece of card. Don’t misuse them. They were created for the purpose of ensuring contact with someone if a conversation is productive and positive, not for everyone in a free-for-all. Value yourself and be restrictive.

2) Over the shoulder

You see it everywhere, the floating heads trying to move in on a conversation, ears pricked up. Not only is it annoying and rude, but it’s a waste of time for you. Be patient. Getting to an important client first can make all the difference, but you’ll want your chance to make a proper account for yourself in an engaged conversation. Don’t just drop in out of fear you’ve missed your chance. Be composed and remember your manners.

3) FOMO

The Fear Of Missing Out can affect us in all parts of our lives but it can be seriously damaging to business. Following the crowd is of little value, because you’ll be pursuing worn-out contacts who already have too much consider due to their popularity. Trying to connect with the people everybody else has can also cause you to miss out on the ones you should have pursued in the first place. Be an individual and have some priorities. You can’t connect with everyone.

4) Aggression

Even novice networkers know anger and shouting are a big no-no, but subtle aggression can threaten any conversation without you realising. Elbowing through crowds, pulling arms, and talking erratically without stopping for breath isn’t close to how smooth and slick you are looking to be. Stay cool, calm and collected.

5) Google dependency

Do your research on the pool beforehand. Google searches on your phone are impractical, nowhere near enough in depth and will look awkward if you get caught in the act. You will need to know a lot about your desired contacts in order to keep control of the conversation as much as possible, not just business achievements, but career history, interests, published interviews, etc. Drop a few little known facts into your conversation to show your enthusiasm and flatter them.

6) Living under a rock

Conversation isn’t strictly business, even if the end goal is. Don’t be boring. Watch the news, get out the house, check on the popular blogs and root through social media trends to be sure you know exactly what’s going on in the world. Then, you can hold your own in a conversation and appear human, not a business robot. Wising up on current affairs will give you a wealth of ice breakers and can inspire new business initiatives.

7) The speak-listen balance

You’re selling yourself, but don’t forget you’re also buying. Nabbing the contact is at times a vainglorious, self-serving exercise, but the victory only matters back in your territory, not at the networking event. This isn’t all about you, so don’t make it. Instead of talking non-stop about how great you are, listen. You will learn a lot, endear your contact much more, and seem more aware of how business works. After all, it takes two to make a deal. To find support on communication skills visit our Video Moods section or our Planners and checklists for top tips.

8) The follow up

Sometimes the big mistake in networking happens afterwards. Have good networking hygiene and clean out your inboxes. Add all your contacts to organised lists and reply to messages and calls as soon as you get them. Make sure you’re present on as many networking sites as possible and make your profile attractive and clear in layout. Contacts aren’t trophies, they need to be maintained and developed to ensure success.

9) Tunnel vision

Don’t go into a networking event with a rigid agenda. It won’t work out the way you want it to. Conversing isn’t a mathematical equation, they can swing either way and lead you onto things you won’t have been prepared for. Roll with the punches. Be open to your plans changing and get creative with building contacts. Showing that you like to think ahead and can adapt with new ideas is an impressive quality.

10) Trusting too much

Taking every contact you can and being hopeful all of them will lead somewhere is far too naïve an outlook. Optimism and determination is one thing, but they work best when you’re selective. Judge characters and be analytical of people’s approaches, no matter how intimidated you might be. It’s impossible to please everyone, but that also works vice versa. Not everyone can please you.
Taking on board these habits should see your success ratios improve when creating contacts for your company. Networking is all about reciprocity – it doesn’t go well if you’re giving too much or receiving too little.

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This article was contributed by Pink Moods.

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