If your goal is to build your business or get to know others in your niche or hobby group, then you know how important networking is. I work as a consultant with companies regarding social media and human resources, so it is important that I understand that networking is critical to my success. I need clients to grow my business and stay gainfully employed, so networking is a key asset in achieving this. But you would be surprised at how many times I have seen supposed “professional” networking individuals network poorly at an event.
Here are some signs that your networking may be working against you:
Networking is a sport:
Networking takes being proactive and assertive. Standing in the corner waiting for people to come and approach you is a diva move. You can’t assume that everyone knows you or is familiar with your background and expertise—networking is about introducing yourself to people, not for acting stand-offish and antisocial.
You are on the phone more than you are networking:
If you are at a networking event and you are spending more time tweeting and updating your Facebook status than you are moving in the crowd and talking to others at the event, then you are losing. Add that to looking at your phone while actively networking and you are sending a signal that the person you are talking to isn’t worth your full attention. Put the phone away and actively engage the people that are trying to network with you.
If you are in a networking environment and you spend most of your time talking to your friends and your “clique”, then you are not really networking. Networking is about introducing yourself to new people and communicating about your business, skill-set, current events, etc. I go to a lot of events and what I see is people sticking with the people that they already know which kills your networking opportunities. Not to say that spending time at a networking event with people you know is bad, but you should be spending the majority of your time building relationships with people that you may not know so well.
Business card mis-info:
Not having updated business cards with you to hand to people you network with is not a good thing. You need to be on your A game and your presentation is key—business cards that are outdated and have incorrect information will kill your chances of networking with people who may want to do business with you. And make sure you have plenty of cards on you as well.
After networking, you should have a bevy of colleagues to approach ideas to and possibly pitch for business proposals. If you leave the event not having talked shop with people, or with not many new business cards or contacts, then chances are, your “networking” was working against you.
Utilizing the tips above may help you truly get the most out of your next networking experience.
Please add or share your networking tips in the comment section below.