Importance of Networking | Part 2 Tips on Don’tsBy John Stokoe
There are many sayings about networking such as ‘Your network equals your net-worth’ but the facts remain that we are only as powerful or effective as our Network. It therefore makes sense that we should work on, not only growing our network, but how we go about doing so, to become more efficient and effective to achieve the success we deserve.
The easiest way to expand your network is to build on your current relationships with people you already know such as family, friends and prior/current work colleagues. Arranged Professional Networking events are also a fantastic way to meet up with and connect with people in your field. People do business with people then know, like and trust and attending networking events builds relationships and friendships. Over time evidence of your work will be apparent and this evidence builds credibility and trust that will make doing business with you a lot easier.
In this article we cover the all-important Don’ts in a Networking environment.
1. Don’t forget your business cards
Unfortunately I’m speaking from experience here, but lesson learned and won’t make that mistake again. There is nothing more embarrassing than having a great conversation or establishing a good relationship with someone, to not have a card when they ask for it. It’s a bit of a let-down and can hurt a potential lead.
2. Don’t be a card dealer
When you do have your business cards with you, don’t hand them out like you’re dealing poker as most people find this off putting and see this as quantity over quality and will reduce your chances of and valued conversation. I’ve seen it before and its not long before others are jokingly dropping the cards in the trash.
3. Don’t work the room
In a similar vein as the card dealer, don’t be the person who is constantly looking for the next person to move onto. This is not speed dating, if you’re always on the lookout for the next hookup, people will take offence. People don’t always show their intentions/reason for being there straight away, so take the time to get to know the person and remember that 1 good contact is far more valuable than a pocket full of cards.
4. Don’t wait for a crisis
Effective networking is all about a gradual and continual process. Without building a network of connections, you’ll have a much harder time reaching out to people who can potentially help you if you suddenly need something in an unknown environment. It may smell desperate and one sided and reduce your chances of being taken seriously.
5. Don’t make it all about you
Remember networking is about listening, so engaging with a “self-interest only” mindset is off putting. The most effective networkers are those people who take the opportunity of time to delve deeper into others needs and find the synergy needed to build a rapport and bond. No one likes a know it all, so be open to listening and learning. Don’t play your cards about how much you know in every conversation and importantly don’t make every conversation about you. This is about building relationships, not one person monopolising conversations with their “expertise.”
6. Don’t be a serial networker
Don’t join loads of networking events or organisations. Quality over quantity is the way to go here, so two or three should be enough. Work towards being a valued and prominent member in the group as this ‘promotes’ you and people radiate to you as an authority. You could become a part of the membership or marketing committee or assist in bringing in prominent speakers for your organisation.
7. Don’t be passive
When you meet someone new and you aren’t immediately aligned, don’t just walk away. Take a minute or two to ask
a) Questions relevant to them and their needs.
b) Explain what you are looking for in a broader sense.
c) Suggest introductions to others you may know
d) Ask for introductions to people in the field you need help with
e) Ask them for advice on your next step.
Persistence shows true interest and will build respect and plus it may help the person you’re networking with come up with ideas he might otherwise overlook.
8. Don’t lie
This goes without saying, but the most common lie is ‘Ill call you tomorrow’ If you don’t intend to, don’t say it. Words spread so its best to build a ‘brand’ of integrity than one of someone who doesn’t fulfil their words
9. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Networking is all about meeting new people as they may have a wealth of information and expertise you need to help you personally and professionally. Don’t be shy or be a wall flower. When you go alone, networking events may make you feel awkward and shy, but jump right into the action and make an effort to socialize and ask questions about their occupation, role and goals at events.
It’s often a good challenge to get yourself to introduce yourself to three people per event. Once conversations start flowing, you’ll be surprised at how simple this really is.
This point leads us neatly on to next week where we will cover conversation starters to give you that all important starting point. Week 3 ‘Conversation Kick-off’s’
About the author
John Stokoe was born and bred in South Africa but his urge to expand and grow led him to the UK. Banking technology was hot during millennium and John worked himself into blue-chip Investment Banks where he steadily progressed into the Head Of Service Management and Business Continuity for major Japanese Banks. Detailed profile: Authors Profile