1. Do we misunderstand the purpose of the networking-Bottom line? If you at an event to sell your services, do everyone a favor and leave. People that see others as dollars signs are very easy to spot. You might have thought this was your purpose, but it’s not. You are there to build and cultivate referral relationships. Remember the term referral marketing? Well, what would you rather have, 100 sales, or 100 people referring your business on a regular basis?
2. We only hang out with the people we already know this is a tough one, but here’s the deal. You are there to build your business, not talk with people you already know. Tell them nicely that you will go to meet some new people and try to introduce them. Have them do the same. That is leverage. You guys can catch up as friends later, you are there to build new relationships.
3. We talk too much about ourselves-This is a big no-no, but we see it all the time! People coming up to you, ramming their business card down your throat, telling you how their product or service is the best. I’ll bet you have even seen someone at an event and thought to yourself “oh no, here comes so and so…” and the reason why you thought that is because of this mistake. Your best bet is to ask questions. Put the focus on them. Let them talk, and you will have your chance…believe me. Even if you have to schedule a follow up one on one to talk about what it is you do, they will be happy to give you the time of day based on the fact that you gave all your attention to them first.
4. We don’t have an effective follow-up system-You went to the event, you get a bunch of people, you got a ton of business cards…now what? You can let them sit on your desk, or even put them in a drawer, but what the heck does that do? It happens, you know it does. The key is following up with folks in a meaningful way. This does not mean try to sell them now that you have their card. It does not mean put them on an email blast. It means touch base, tell them you enjoyed speaking with them and set up an appt to have a one on one where you can find out even more about their business and how you may be of service.
5. We don’t meet the host/center of influence-You are standing in a room full of about 100 people. Someone was responsible for getting them all there. Think you should meet them? The answer is yes. The people responsible for putting on successful mixers and events usually have a pretty good contact list. Meet them every time you can. Get to know them, and watch your contacts dramatically increase.
6. We are not good matchmakers-This mistake can be corrected very simply. Meet people and introduce them to folks who you think might make good referral partners. If you spend your time doing this, you will avoid mistake number 7 and just maybe the hit of the event.
7. We don’t attend enough networking events-Now that you know some of the things you shouldn’t do, and in turn, some of the things you should do, go practice! Staying at home or in your office will not build your business like networking will. Choose some events, put them on your schedule and attend.