Tag Archives: how to network

Five networking no-nos

19 Sep

Building business is all about building networks and contacts. As tempting as it is to think that you can work as a pure e-entrepreneur, tucked away behind your keyboard and never interacting with anyone else – ultimately that’s just not possible.

Opportunities to build your network are everywhere, and should never be turned down. That doesn’t mean you treat everyone as a potential customer and approach them with a ‘what can I get out of you?’ attitude. Far from it – it’s far more a case of ‘how can we support each other?’. No one entrepreneur can be all things to all clients. At some point you’ll need to make the decision to refer a client you can’t help out to another entrepreneur, and that’s where having a great network comes into its own. By taking the time to build your network, you’re ensuring you always put your clients first.

Networking can take place anywhere (so always make sure you have business cards with you), but formal networking events are becoming more and more popular. Whether you decide to network formally or informally, there are some networking no-nos you need to bear in mind.

1. Not enough details on your business card

There are times when I’ve had a great conversation with a fellow entrepreneur, and happily taken their business card – only to find out that it doesn’t have all their contact details.

There’s no point polishing your presentation and having a kick-ass tag line if people can’t get in touch with you after the event. You also need to think about the fact that some people prefer written communication to verbal, therefore you need to give them various options for getting in touch with you.

At a minimum, your business card should contain your name, phone number, email address and website. You do have a website, don’t you?

2. Not having your website set up

Ah yes, error number two. When I’m reconnecting with potential business partners, the first thing I do is check out their website. It tells me a lot about them, and as a writer one of the things I’m looking at is attention to detail and quality communication.

So it is incredibly frustrating when I’m met with a holding page, or worse still just one of those pages telling you that the address is registered with GoDaddy.

I don’t care who hosts your URL, I care about your product and services. If nothing else, get up a simple WordPress site.

3. Not listening

It’s easy to tell when someone’s not listening to you. Their eyes aren’t quite in focus, they nod their head a little too vigorously.

Not listening is the cardinal sin of networking. Why would anyone want to do business with someone who isn’t interested in them?

Now I’m the first to recognise that it’s tough to remember what other people have said to you when you’re feeling nervous about your own presentation. So if it’s a formal networking event, make sure you prepare well the night before, get plenty of rest and take the time to clear your mind you go in.

Then, when a fellow entrepreneur is talking with you, really focus on what they’re saying. It can sometimes help to repeat what they’ve just said to you back to them, but in the form of a question. Voicing the words yourself can help the facts to stick.

4. Not taking other people’s experience seriously

Imagine this. You sit down to talk to someone at a networking event, introduce yourself, your company name and give a high level overview of what you do.

All in all, you’ve spoken for maybe twenty seconds at most.

Before you get to go any further, the person your talking to interrupts you and tells you that you don’t have enough knowledge or experience to run your business. They then proceed to spend the next five minutes telling you all about their experience.

Not very nice, is it? This happened to me at a networking event a while ago. The business owner who treated me in this way now tops the list of ‘people to never refer clients to, ever’.

The simple fact is that you can’t tell anything about a person’s ability or experience by looking at them, or through less than half a minute of talking. Don’t alienate potential business contacts by making hasty judgements.

5. Not following up

The final sin of networking – not following up. You may have collected a heap of business cards, but they don’t equate to a relationship in and of themselves. To build the relationship, you need to follow up.

Some guidelines for following up.

Following up is not bombarding your new contacts with promotions, signing them up for newsletters without their permission or stalking their blog.

Following up is sending them a brief email saying how much you enjoyed meeting them, posting a useful link on their facebook wall or retweeting a link to their blog to your followers.

What skills have your learnt in your network-building escapades?