Networking should be treat the same as any other marketing activity – to fully maximise the opportunity you need to develop a networking strategy and plan.
You’re more likely to be a great networker if you have clear and well defined objectives and understand what it is that you’re trying to achieve.
I like to break networking strategy and planning into the following 3 stages –
1. Preparation – Preparing A Networking Strategy
2. Networking – What To Do At The Event
3. Following Up – What To Do After the Event
These are the top 5 things that you must absolutely never do at a networking event –
Miss the opportunity
If you don’t ‘want’ to be at the event, then don’t attend. There’s no point in just turning up to see what might happen. You’ll need to ‘make’ something happen.
If you have clearly defined objectives and goals, then you’ll know what you want to achieve by attending each event.
Expect to sell
Networking is not about selling – it’s about building relationships built on trust.
At most events everybody who attends is looking to ‘sell’, not ‘buy’. This obviously therefore means that no one will ‘sell’ anything.
Approaching networking with a more long term strategy and approach could be beneficial.
Only speak to 1 person
Remember to ‘work the room’. It’s not a good use of your time if you spend it all with the same contact. Knowing when to politely move on is a great networking skill.
Before, or at the start of an event, check out the guest list so that you know who else is in the room. Knowing who is in attendance is valuable knowledge.
A polite way to end an interaction is to say something like – ‘it was nice to meet you’, shake your contacts hand and confidently move on.
Offload business cards
At some stage, we’ve had someone’s business card thrust upon us. No one appreciates this. Only hand your card over when appropriate – usually when somebody asks for it.
If you randomly throw business cards at people, they’ll only end up in the bin, or even worse than that – on someone’s spam list.
Forget to follow up
The amount of times the follow up is neglected or completely forgotten about is staggering.
Following up is essentially – ‘doing whatever you said you were going to do’.
There’s absolutely no point in attending networking events if you don’t follow through and do what you said you were going to do. Not doing the follow up is the biggest networking crime.
It’s amazing how often I see these things happen. Don’t follow the flock – make your networking more successful – create a networking strategy and plan.
For more information, check out my Guide – What Everybody Ought To Know About Networking.