Networking is still a top-notch way to achieve your business goals. From getting your first client to growing your business; from getting a job to hiring a candidate. In my many years, I’ve seen a lot of networking mistakes and in this piece, I’ll tell you what they are and how to avoid them. Because networking mistakes are like the black plague. They will absolutely affect your image and lead to negative results.
Networking Mistakes To Avoid (in no particular order)
Let’s Talk Resumes
You meet somebody and you’re ready to impress, so of course, you should share your life’s professional story, right? Please no. When I meet people for the first time I give them small ice breakers. Talk about hobbies, family, pets. When they first meet you, they don’t care about your prestigious colleges, various degrees, years abroad with the Peace Corps, or your Sorority House. In the beginning, who you are and how likable you are is more important. They can always see your bells and whistles on LinkedIn. People have the attention span of a goldfish at these events. Give a memorable elevator pitch and ask them engaging questions about themselves and their business.
Asking For Work
It’s not only unprofessional, but it’s also a huge turnoff to ask for work or a job at a networking event. I don’t go to a networking event to get new clients, I go to get referral partners. People whose services may benefit my clients and people who may be able to refer me out. Never expect a paying gig to come directly from it. If you’re in the market for a new job or unemployed, you can go and promote your skillsets as “freelance” or “looking for a new opportunity” but don’t press the issue. People will ask if they are interested and they’ll continue to open the conversation. Let them take the driver’s seat.
The Business Card Shuffle
Business cards aren’t flyers, you don’t need to give them to everyone. They’ll most likely be discarded and you’re just wasting money. Give someone a card if they ask for it. If someone wants your contact info, hand them a card and ask them if they want you to call them from your cell so they have it? Or perhaps email you right there as well. Don’t assume a card alone will be enough but if it is, they’ll tell you. Some people prefer direct contact exchange, no cards necessary. It only adds to the clutter honestly.
It’s OK to be social and meet people. I’m SUPER social. But I also know the value of quality over quantity. It’s better than I spend 15-20 minutes with 3-5 really solid contacts in my circle of influence than it is to spend 5 minutes with 10-15 people. Chances are I’m going to run into a ton of other marketers anyway and only some will be receptive to the value collaboration offers. So I spend my time there.
Drinking is not unprofessional to me but drinking too much is. Shy people may need a cocktail or two to open up. But drinking too much will only make you look like a fool. Trust me, I’ve made that mistake in my younger years and lost opportunity because of it.
Please stop calling my Chrissy or Kristina. It’s Crystal. I have a name badge and I’d rather you look at it and say my name right than get it wrong. I know mistakes happen and I’ve done it. On a stage, in front of hundreds. But try to remember people’s names as it is often perceived as a level of respect to do so. Some people may just think this is a pet peeve and maybe it is. But I think it belongs on the list of networking mistakes.
Too Much Me
Don’t talk about you all the time. Put the other person in the driver’s seat. Ask good questions and really listen to the answers. Offer help or collaboration options when possible. Avoid spending too much time on yourself or your business.
It’s usually a good practice to avoid politics, religion, or the stuff that ruffles feathers but you should be genuine with who you are. So just use good judgment when you decide what to talk about or respond to.
Did I miss any networking mistakes that are on your list? What things would you like me to add here? I’d love to hear about networking blunders you’ve had or witnessed. Check my out on Linkedin for content like this and more. You can also send me a Holotape with R2 as well!