Networking is one of those necessary evils that we all know we have to do in business, but many of us would rather do almost anything else.
Attending local events can help business owners expand their reach in their local market, but don’t forget: first impressions are everything.
Networking the right way is essential.
In this blog, we’ll look at some of the most common networking mistakes, but we’re going to take a slightly unique approach.
Allow us to explain: networking can feel like a first date (which, in some aspects, it is) so we’re going to connect some of the traits that make a really bad date with networking through examples.
Our goal here is to have some fun but also to present some takeaways of “what not to do” as well as a few tips at the end for those of us who want to get the most out of our networking encounters.
So, enough with the delays. Let’s get to it.
Networking 101: How Not to Network
If you have a networking event coming up, don’t be this networker:
We’ve all met a networker (and I’m guessing in dating life as well) who’s looking to close the deal from the moment that you say hello.
As soon as the conversation starts, you can tell that they’re trying to sell you something. They start by asking loaded questions, and they sound like they’re reading from a scripted sales pitch they’ve practiced 100 times.
They are more interested in the conquest and the sale than in making an actual connection.
Let me just say this: DON’T BE THAT GUY (or GAL). There are particular industries that are notorious for this (not to name any lol).
You can identify a Closer from a mile away and feel the apprehension when someone is introduced to a Closer almost immediately.
No one wants to feel like they are being used or sold to, especially when you’re first meeting someone. Most people go to networking events to meet new people and make connections, not to be cornered by the drink table and told how much they need to buy your service.
The Wandering Eye
This networker is easy to spot. They are typically the one who is taking the time to browse the room while connecting with people.
It’s all about the next conversation, never totally becoming engaged in the current conversation.
We see these people on dates as well while they are sitting at the table with their date but constantly window shopping.
One of the most important aspects of communication is body language and, along with that, making eye contact with the person you are talking to at the moment.
There are few ways to make someone feel less important than constantly looking around for the next conversation. It’s pretty obvious that they aren’t engaged in the conversation.
If you’re going to speak to someone, be a part of the conversation. Give it the time and energy that it deserves. I would hate to see the number of great potential connections that go unmade because one of the parties in the conversation can’t commit to it.
As almost a direct contradiction to the Wandering Eye, we have the classic Oversharer. I’m not sure if we have to say this, but we will anyway: no one wants to hear your entire life story at a networking event.
I understand that most business owners are passionate about their business, and that’s a beautiful thing. However, not everyone is going to feel the same passion toward your business.
Taking a conversation hostage and going into every detail of your life or business doesn’t achieve much outside of causing the other person to start thinking about what they are going to have for dinner.
Another painfully evident Oversharer trait is consistently waiting for a chance to speak. We all have those people in our lives who we know aren’t really listening but instead are just thinking about the next thing they want to talk about.
It’s all about them and what is going on in their life, and they have little interest in engaging in a two-way conversation.
This is honestly one of the funniest networking types. It’s all a numbers game with Floaters.
You can see them walking around, business cards in hand, looking for their next target. They really don’t want to connect with anyone, and they won’t give real attention to any connection.
Instead, they may try to gather as many business cards as they can, and at times, we may even see them counting them to keep score.
So, we’ve discussed some of the negative types of marketers, but don’t worry: we’re not all about the negative here. Lets go over some networking techniques and tips for those who want to be Mr. or Ms. Right at an upcoming event.
Be Genuinely Interested in Connecting With People: Be there for the right reasons. Networking events are opportunities to make connections with people who aren’t in your circle of influence.
Look to Help Instead of Sell: Your intentions are crucial as well as evident to those around you. Want to make a connection with someone most likely to become a customer one day? Solve one of their problems. If you help solve a pain point for someone, they won’t forget you, and you’ll build immediate trust.
Remember, It’s a Conversation: There are two parts to a conversation: the part where you talk and the part where you listen. For a conversation to be successful, we have to do both.
Treat Everyone Like a CEO: We don’t know a person’s level of influence at a company. Just because their job title says one thing doesn’t mean that they can’t make or break your chance to do business with their company. Treat everyone with the same level of respect, and you can’t go wrong. (Plus, you’ll be a good person.)
Follow Up For A Second Date: If your goal is to connect with potential customers or professional connections, it’s important to follow up. Reach out to good connections after the event, and set up a time where you can get into a more in-depth conversation and deepen the relationship.
There we go, friends. Hopefully we’ve had a little fun today as well as given you some notes to think about at your next networking event. Be the kind of connection that you want to connect with, and truly invest into networking events. You might surprise yourself with what you find.
Hoping to network with someone who can help you grow your business? BrandCraft, a digital marketing agency, would love to chat. Start the conversation today.