5 Common Mistakes When Networking

Using networking events to promote your small business can be invaluable - but only if done properly

5 Common Mistakes When Networking

Believe it or not, the art of networking is a skill. A skill that needs to be honed and polished with time invested in order to get your desired results. That result could be an unpublished job that has your name on it or the deepening of business relationships for future business opportunities or simply you want to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can help you move forward personally or professionally.

Whatever your reason for networking it can certainly work for you. But there are five common mistakes we make when networking which reduces the power of in-person relationship building:

1. No clear focus of what you are trying to achieve

Ultimately what is your end goal. What are you trying to achieve? You have to build this into a plan.

A plan you can commit to which outlines your goal, the connections you want to make, how you’re going to connect, how much time you’re going to invest, what you can offer to the relationship and ultimately what results you would like to see. Time is precious so make sure you network with meaning.

2. The ‘spray and pray’ approach will not cut it

The spray and pray approach, reaching out to as many people as possible, is not the way to network. Networking is fundamentally about building relationships and building relationships takes time, energy and commitment.

If you’re attending an event, research who will be there, who you want to connect with and more importantly why you want to. This links to being clear about your plan goals.

3. Be interested not just interesting

Networking is a two-way street. You have to be interested not just interesting. Yes, be clear about who you are and what relevance you have (the knowledge or information you can share) but be interested in the other party.

Genuinely interested; what’s their back story, how did they get to this point, what drives them. Being interested and not just interesting makes for a two-way conversation which is the beginning of any type of long term beneficial relationship.

4. Failing to follow up

Follow up with your contacts – reactively and proactively. Stay in touch, share information, if you’ve promised to action something, action it and confirm when you’ve done it. Be thoughtful and the payback may be ten-fold.

5. Show up with your business card

My fifth and final mistake is actually a bug bear of mine when networking. The number of times I’ve networked and I’ve asked the individual for their business card and they haven’t got one with them. What? You should have a pocket full at all times! The individual instead asks me to ‘like’ their Facebook page or connect via LinkedIn.

Whilst I haven’t got a challenge doing either of those things, swapping contact information digitally is impersonal and tells me more about you than you realise. Your business card is your physical asset reminding individuals of you after the conversation. Whilst a number of our contacts will be digital, let’s not lose one of the physical connections remaining.

Royston Guest is CEO of Pti-Worldwide and author of business growth book Built to Grow

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