When it comes to networking, there are a few potential mistakes that can easily be avoided.
1. DON’T Network Without a Plan
Clarify your goals before you get out there and network.
You don’t go shopping without writing out a list.
Otherwise you would just be picking things off shelves at random.
Then you get back home to find you have stuff you don’t want, and are missing items you need.
Networking is no different.
If you want each networking event to be fruitful, you need to make a plan.
Decide what kind of relationships you’re looking for and how you want your new contacts to benefit your business.
Then identify people who fit those criteria and work out the best way to meet them.
Then you can focus on making connections with people who can help you achieve your goals.
2. DON’T Get Nervous
Some people find the experience of meeting new people stressful.
Everything’s going to be fine!
Everyone at a networking meeting has turned up with the intent of meeting new people.
They are there to make new connections – just like you.
They all want to meet you.
So long as you have prepared well, and know your elevator pitch, what can go wrong?
Get into a relaxed state of mind and ready to have fun.
If you still feel nervous, you may want to practice some relaxation exercises before you go out.
3. DON’T Make Assumptions
You’re there not only to make connections, but to also learn about the people you’ll meet.
Don’t make assumptions about who they are or what they do.
Ask open questions and listen.
4. DON’T Deliver a Boring Elevator Speech
Your elevator speech should not only tell the other person who you are and what you do.
It should also express how you are unique and why it’s beneficial for the other party to know you.
5. DON’T Stay in an Awkward Situation
If a person you meet is rude or unresponsive, don’t stick around.
Thank them for their time and move on to the next person.
There’s nothing to gain by wasting time talking to someone with whom you won’t get along.
6. DON’T Talk Too Much
You should be friendly and outgoing, but don’t dominate conversations.
The best balance is to let the other person talk twice as much as you do.
If the conversation is faltering, revive it with a friendly, open question.
7. DON’T Get Negative
Don’t complain about the snacks, badmouth other people, or say negative things about companies you’ve worked for.
Sometimes people try to build rapport by having a common enemy.
This is dangerous in a roomful of strangers – you don’t know who they’re connected to.
Instead, focus on constructive and positive conversation.
8. DON’T Cling to People You Know
We have a natural tendency to stick with what we know.
At networking events, make sure you mix with a variety of people, not just familiar faces.
Approach people who are alone and draw them into conversation.
9. DON’T Demand Too Much from New Connections
Try to create opportunities to get in touch with new people you meet, but don’t ask too much of them at first.
Remember the ‘law’ of reciprocity.
Focus on offering something beneficial to them instead.
If they are the right connection for you, they will be happy to return the favour later.
10. DON’T Forget to Follow Up
The follow up is the most important part of networking.
If you want to nurture a relationship, email or direct message them shortly after the event.
Always end your message with a question, inviting them to respond.
In conclusion, avoid these networking mistakes and you’ll be on your way to making great connections.