The ability to communicate effectively is cited as the number one factor contributing to the success of the highest paid professionals. So the ability to network well is definitely a skill worth mastering. Following are some of the common networking mistakes.
Put your business card in as many hands as possible. That's the best way to network.
Your business card is a networking tool. Like any tool, it should be used appropriately and carefully. Simply putting your business card in as many hands as possible, before you've established value, is guaranteed to land your business card in the nearest trash can or in a large, ignored pile somewhere. Use your business card as a tool to exchange business cards with others in your network.
Do your homework ahead of time. Research everything and everyone. At the networking event, dazzle everyone with your knowledge.
While it's always advisable to keep up to date on current events, changes in your industry and changes in the lives of the members of your network, networking should be a dialogue, not a monologue.
Take advantage of the latest and greatest in technology. With all the advanced methods of communication, you can reach more people, more efficiently and with more information. In fact, done right, you might not even have to talk to people.
Technology can help you follow-up with contacts, stay in touch, respond to inquiries quickly and generally make life simpler. However, networking always has been and continues to be a social interaction. Without making a human connection with others, your message will not have the same level of power.
The best way to network is to put a few dates on the calendar and dedicate yourself to meeting as many people as possible at those events.
Networking events play an important role in building and sustaining your network. But they are only a part. People who are excellent at networking know that their network needs care and that follow-up is a critical component in the maintenance of a network.
Identify a few people who seem to have great networks and call on them when you need a referral or help.
Networking is a reciprocal relationship. People who only call on others when they need something are at risk of making important people frustrated and angry.
Each time you make a helpful referral to someone, remember to ask for something in exchange.
The people we like the best are the ones who willingly offer their help, without expectation of payment. When assistance comes with "strings attached" the relationship (and the network) is sure to suffer.
Make an effort to provide advice to people on the areas you have some expertise or experience in.
Only provide advice when asked for it. There are few things more annoying to people than unsolicited advice and being told what they "should" and "should not" do, however well intentioned the advice may be.
Good networking requires the ability to ask questions. Ask many questions and respond to questions with questions.
While people skilled at the art of networking know how to ask questions to learn more about others, they also realize that networking is a dialogue in which both people should contribute. If you aren't willing to be open, why should others?
The purpose of networking is to let people know about you. Use every opportunity to tie the conversation back to your main objective.
When the entire conversation continually centers around one person - usually the same person, others grow tired of the interaction, even it if is interesting. Take a sincere interest in others, they will respond in kind.
Seek out the most influential people in the room. It is a waste of time and a diversion to spend time with people who can't help you achieve your goals.
While the key decision-makers are fairly easy to spot (but not always), key influencers are often difficult to identify. By avoiding certain people, cutting conversations short, or being impolite, you may be alienating someone that could enhance your network.
Spend time with people like you. Since you already have many things in common, they will be easier to relate to and will probably be more helpful.
We enjoy spending time with people like us but we learn most from those who are different. Leave your comfort zone. Meet new people. Expand your network. You might learn something!
Happy Networking from Tero International.
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