One of the fastest ways to drum up business for is through networking. Networking gets you in front of people who either need your service or know someone who does. In other words it creates sales opportunities.
However many people make a number of mistakes during the networking process that keeps them from getting the most out of their efforts. I’ve made a lot of them! Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes people make when networking.
Ten Networking Mistakes You Should Avoid
1. Going to all the wrong networking events. When I first started my cleaning business I attended as many local networking events as I could fit into my busy schedule. However I quickly realized that I ran into the same group of “regulars” at some of these events, and very few of them interacted with the type of decision-maker I needed to know (they had no clue who hired the cleaning service at their company).
Before long I realized that I was going to some of the wrong events. For me the solution to this problem was to focus on the smaller networking groups around town. By-the-way, my wife does really well in business women’s groups – ‘administrative assistants’ are often the real decision makers when it comes to selecting a cleaning company.
2. Waiting for other people to introduce themselves to you. A sizable percentage of the population is hesitant to go up to a total stranger and strike up a conversation. That’s human nature at work, but to have success at the networking game you need to find a way to overcome that fear (just bite the bullet, and take the initiative to introduce yourself).
Another quirk of human nature is that if you break the ice first, you will be perceived as a person of authority and power (all it takes is a little confidence in yourself).
3. Talking too much. This is a common mistake I see all the time. You do not want to dominate the conversation (it’s not about you as much as it’s about them). If you want to make good impressions with others there is only one way to do so, listen much more than you speak.
Keep in mind networking is not really the time for hard selling (don’t go trying to get someone to sign up for your cleaning service on the spot). You are here to make connections that you can follow up on later.
4. Not engaging others (not asking questions). The fastest and most effective way to create a connection with others is to ask them questions. Inquire about their business and what they do. Ask them about any special challenges they face in their field. Ask them what they enjoy most about their work.
These types of questions encourage people to share information with you and help position yourself as someone who cares (and as someone they may be able to do business with later on).
5. Getting distracted by others. Ever had a conversation with someone who constantly watched what was going on in the room instead of paying attention to what you were saying? Didn’t that leave you feeling somewhat ignored and unimportant (I know it gives me that feeling).
People who do that make a bad impression (maybe bad enough to not get a referral). Don’t make the same mistake. Give absolute attention to every person you meet and try to learn how you might be able to help them.