Networking is a key component of the business. More often than not, opportunities come from those who with you have shared a previous interaction. That is why it is so important to always be in search for new contacts to exchange information and build a professional bond.
The thing is, sometimes you meet the right people but still don’t get the results that you expect. If that is the case, maybe you are making some networking mistakes that are super common, but easy to fix. If you feel like there is room for improvement in your skills, take a look at these five networking mistakes that you might be making without even knowing it:
1) Being Too Aggressive
Networking is about building a relationship and making sure that it is well developed. It is not a numbers game. It is more about quality than quantity. So if you are at a networking event, don’t try to go around talking to everyone. Instead, get to know a few people in a more meaningful way. Ask questions about them and find out how you can help each other. But be careful, because there is a big difference between networking and making a sale. First, you have to develop the foundation of the relationship. Get to know more about them and their business and let the sales pitch for another time. The important thing is to make a positive impression and start a connection with potential partners for future opportunities.
2) Lack of Preparation
If you are going to have conversations with people you never met before, you have to be prepared to say the right things. It is your chance to present yourself and your business, so get ready to answer questions and give details about what you do. By thinking about what you are going to say ahead of time, you are going to be more confident in your communication. People have to understand why you and your business are unique and important. This way, you can actually have good results with the contacts you make.
3) Not Listening Enough
It is easy to get carried away with all the things you want to tell people. But remember networking is all about conversations and that is a two-way street. As much as you want the other person to listen to you, it is just as important to listen to them. And don’t just nod and pretend to be listening! Actually pay attention to what they are saying and ask questions. A friendly and meaningful conversation is super valuable. It is also going to be much more natural when you give this person your card and/or ask for theirs because you have already had a good connection. This way, you are going to walk away feeling accomplished and closer to that person.
4) Expecting Too Much
Even though you obviously have expectations from the people you meet through networking, it is crucial to have patience. The benefits from a certain connection may take some time to come along. So don’t go asking for things right away. A business relationship takes a while to be developed and most of the time you have got to give before you receive something in return. So focus on getting to know your contact and learning how you can be of service to them. Try not to obsess about what they can give you back because eventually you just might get the results you hope.
5) Not Following Up
This one is simple, but sometimes you may get caught up in the fast rhythm of the everyday life and forget to follow up after networking. It is a big mistake, because if you don’t keep in touch with your contact, all that you talked about so far may become useless. So when you meet someone, make sure to their card or e-mail address (and give yours too) and be ready to keep the conversation going afterwards. And if someone you met gets in touch with you, don’t forget to get back to them right away. Treat all your networking partners with respect and make them feel like they have your time and attention. This way your relationship can bring positive results in the future.
These are our five tips to improve your networking skills. Avoid these mistakes and your results are certainly going to get better. Always remember that even if you don’t get what you are expecting from your contacts, getting to know someone can always bring knowledge and social experience.