Networking is key requirement for entrepreneurs and can be an effective form of personal and business marketing. If it’s done badly, however, it can actually do more harm than good.
Here are three things NOT to do when networking:
- Focusing only on quantity of contacts. Effective networking has nothing to do with how many business cards you collect. Successful networkers understand that it’s about building deep networks, not broad networks. Rather focus on creating a few key mutually beneficial relationships than meeting everyone in the room. There is nothing that makes more of a poor impression with a new contact than if they can see you looking over their shoulder, scouring the room for the next person to talk to.
- Attending every event. Be selective in your networking. You cannot attend everything and you will burn yourself out trying to! Rather focus on the key events that link with what you want to achieve from a business perspective, and prioritise those. Remember – what you say ‘no’ to is just as important as what you say ‘yes’ to in building your personal brand. Attending multiple events and being too frazzled to network well is far less effective than attending one or two and making the most of them.
- Making empty promises. Never ask for a business card unless you genuinely know that you want to follow up and begin a relationship. If you say you’ll drop someone a mail or send them some info, make sure you do it! The number one mistake people make when networking is a lack of follow-up. Follow up the same day (or the next day at latest), before it slides down your to-do list and you forget. Make sure you keep momentum, even if it means diarising reminders to follow-up. Successful networkers know that networking doesn’t end at the event – that’s only the start!