Most people attend networking events at some point in their career. For some, the event goes pretty well, while others just feel awkward about meeting new people. Effective networking needs skill and can be time-consuming. To increase the value these events can bring to you and your business – check out our next event here – read on to avoid these seven networking event blunders.
- You don’t have a strategy.
The opportunity is there, but are you leveraging it? It’s best to approach a networking event with a plan in mind. Mapping out your objective, you can then assess the actions that need to take place. Are you looking for business partners? What about possible leads? Once you identify what you’re after, you can begin connecting the dots as to the people you’re looking to meet.
Identify which organizations, activities, conferences, and events your target contacts participate in and focus on those. By strategically being in the right place at the right time, you will be better able to form the right connections.
- You’re focused on selling.
Honestly, do you enjoy someone giving you a sales pitch you when you’re trying to relax and socialize? Regular networkers can easily spot a hidden agenda during a networking event. Instead, be yourself, get “real”, and personalise the conversation. Ask the people you are speaking with about their industry and show an interest. Learning more about them rather than selling, allows you to gain their respect and trust.
- You’re too talkative.
A conversation is a two-way street. As much as you want to share information about what you do, at a networking event, active listening is key. Take the time to allow people to open up about themselves. This will give you the opportunity to gain valuable insights into their company. Ask them about the business challenges they face, but be sure not to prod too much. They’ll remember that going into the next networking event.
- No follow up.
Are you doing anything to follow up with potential contacts? If you’re not, you could be missing out. Be sure to connect with Dave Green on LinkedIn as soon as possible. The secret to fostering a relationship is remaining fresh in people’s minds, so be sure to call, email, or get together for a coffee so you can both learn more about each other’s businesses and potentially develop mutually beneficial solutions.
- You don’t give any value.
Networking is all about the give and take. Even if your contact isn’t quite the person you were looking for, keep them in your pocket. You never know when that connection could be valuable. Following through can transform a brief interaction into a long-lasting partnership. If they’re not ready to work with you just yet, don’t lose hope. Instead, work on nurturing this new lead. If you discussed some of the challenges they face during the conversation you had, not only provide your contact but collaborate with them on finding a solution.
- Hanging with people you know
You network to meet new people and find new business contacts, right? Try not to gravitate toward people you know, because this will kill your chances of meeting new people. Be polite and say “Hi”, but move on and stay true to your task – that of meeting new contacts. Be confident and be sure to have a strong introduction ready so that people want to have a conversation with you.
- Food, beverages and what to wear
You’re at a networking event, not the Birdsville B&S ball. Avoid eating anything that might make it unpleasant to speak with you. By this I mean anything with a strong odour, etc. Also, you should limit the amount of alcohol you consume at a networking event to enable you to remain professional – no one wants to network with a drunk. If attending an event after work, be sure to pay attention to personal hygiene and the way you dress. Pack deodorant or perfume, a spare shirt or blouse, and a toothbrush. No one wants to network with someone who is smelly, dishevelled, or has their lunch still in their teeth.
How you navigate the networking events you attend can make or break your business. Network with us – build your contact base – and learn the secrets to taking your business to the next level.