Networking is much more than just collecting business cards or building a large list of contacts. It’s the means of building relationships and strategic partnerships that are critical to business growth. Networking requires proper execution for the best results. You have to invest time and effort, while avoiding any pitfalls that can result in a poor networking experience. These connections are important because they can help you in the future. Below are 6 common networking mistakes and how to avoid them.
Underestimating the value of meeting face-to-face
There is nothing that can substitute for getting out there and meeting people. You never know who you might meet. Someone may know the perfect supplier for you or the best job candidate. You should make an effort to attend a few networking events a month that are relevant to your business goals. The objective is obviously to introduce yourself to people you haven’t met. Also, you should try and find out if there are any common services, interests or needs between you.
Talking instead of listening
If you only talk instead of listen, you will be making a huge mistake. A networking event is not the time to brag about your skills and experience. A good way to forge meaningful relationships is to tell your life story. This is your time to get to know other professionals.
To help you make a memorable first impression, you need to avoid shameless self-promotion. Instead, you should ask questions to those you’re networking with. Many love to talk about themselves, so give your networking contact that opportunity. A balanced conversation will ultimately lead to a more beneficial conversation.
Limiting your networking
If you are limiting your networking activity to professional meetings and events, you may be shorting yourself. Networking can happen anywhere at any time. You need to be open to the possibility of making a business connection wherever you are. You may be surprised where a conversation while waiting in line for the elevator may lead to.
Avoiding social networking
Social media can be a very valuable tool when it comes to expanding your network. You are able to connect with people you may have never met otherwise. The key is to move past your initial online interaction and create a real relationship. You can do this by engaging in LinkedIn discussions with your connections. Also, you can share their upcoming event on Facebook. If you are both in the same city, you can invite them to meet for coffee. Platforms like LinkedIn also offer the opportunity to deepen relationships with contacts you meet in person.
Failing to follow up
It’s easy for people to forget you if you don’t follow up with any of your contacts. If you promised to send them over information, they may find you unreliable or insincere. Remembering to follow up is essential to maintaining your network. Even if it’s only sending an email now and then, you will be surprised how connections grow.
Along with this, you can share information, offer assistance or invite this person to join you at an event. You can also give them a call to schedule a time and place to catch up, such as grabbing coffee or lunch. If you were given a lead, take action and update your contact regardless of what the outcome is. All of this just shows that you value the idea and the connection.
Forgetting to say thank you
If you don’t show gratitude to your network contacts, it can make a negative impression. This is obviously the last thing you want to do. By sending a note thanking someone for their time, you will leave them feeling positive about their interaction with you. While it’s easy to get busy and forget, create a reminder to say thank you to your new contact.