Networking is a powerful tool. However, it is only effective when done properly. Certain mistakes may hinder your success and impact the opportunity to connect with valuable members of your community or trade. So, today, we want to discuss some common networking mistakes, and some tips to avoid going forward.
Mistake 1: Not being prepared
One of the biggest mistakes you can make before a networking event is not preparing ahead of time. It is important to do a bit of research beforehand to find out what to expect. This could mean researching who the guest speakers will be, other attendees, and/or sponsors. The best way to avoid making this mistake is by dedicating some time to find the necessary information so you are armed with all the details you need to form meaningful connections.
Mistake 2: Overselling
Avoid overselling yourself or the services or products you provide. It can be easy to get carried away and only speak about yourself and what you do; however, that is not an effective approach to networking. To avoid overselling, be mindful of how much you are speaking. Remember, you want to connect with people, and the best way to do so is by learning about others. Listen with intent and ask meaningful questions to help start building a relationship. Rather than focusing on yourself, prioritize making mutually beneficial connections.
Mistake 3: Not setting goals
Going into an event without clear and reasonable goals may mean you spend more time at the event wondering what to do next. Set a few attainable goals to make the most of your networking. You will find the most success when you have a clear understanding of what you wish to achieve by attending the event.
A few ideas to get you started:
- A certain number of people you want to meet.
- A specific person or industry you want to connect with.
- A particular amount of business cards you want to hand out.
Mistake 4: Being inauthentic
When you attend networking events, you want to put your best foot forward. However, you also want to stay true to who you are and highlight the value you bring. Therefore, don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t, or offer something you can’t provide. People want to make genuine connections and can often sense when people are being inauthentic. Be yourself, hold your head high, and be confident in your business. Connecting on a personal level with people by being authentic and transparent is the best way to build lasting relationships.
Mistake 5: Not following up
Once you have exchanged contact information with someone, promise to follow up and honour your word. The fastest way to burn a bridge with someone is by not doing what you said you would. Send a personalized message shortly after the event. Be sure to mention something meaningful you took away from your meeting and offer ways you can work together further.
By recognizing some of these common networking mistakes, you can be aware of how to avoid them. Be confident, add value, and be genuine in your actions and you will find yourself creating a strong network of people you can rely on and trust.