You know the saying that people like to do business with people they know like and trust still holds true today. However the question is what if you dont know anyone? Well while you know I looooooove social media, as an entrepreneur, you still cant replace good ole face to face networking. So with that said, I wanted to put together a quick checklist of things you should NOT do when networking! Now keep in mind, not all networking groups are created equal but you can still find great contacts at all networking groups.
For me my favorite kind of networking groups to attend are more structured ones where I am able to deliver what it is that I do. Also I love to go to gatherings vs business only networking because you are not trying to over sell your business but you are genuinely able to get to know people.
So here is your list of WHAT NOT TO DO AT NETWORKING EVENTS.
- Don’t be intimidated. – I find many people dont like to go out networking because of different kinds of fears. I promise you what you are afraid of is probably existent amongst many of the people there. The key is knowing what to say and once youve learned this, your intimidation factor will go down.
- Don’t go to networking events with friends. – The reason behind this is because you will neeeeever get to know other people. Now if you are experienced in networking that is a different story but if you are new, you dont want to have that distraction. Remember your goal should be to meet new people not sit there talking with your friend the whole night. I see people do this all the time.
- Don’t try to meet everyone in sight. For me I set a goal to meet about 2 strong people at every event I go to. WHY? Well first of all I know that I can follow up with everyone and Im not trying to schedule 10 coffee meetings per week. These things can go long. So what I do when I go to an event is I first take time to observe the people there. I know what the person that Im looking for looks like (MY POTENTIAL CLIENT) and I make sure that when I find them, I take time to get to know them.
- Don’t interrupt Ever. Now if you want to be seen as the “Networking Jerk” then interrupt away! I remember one time I was at a networking group and was engaged in a conversation with some incredible women. This lady comes into the circle and says sorry for interrupting but I wanted to give my all my card. She then proceeds to go into here “INTRO”. Seriously do you think anyone was listening? HECK NO.. We all politely put her business card right on the table beside us. BE GONE MS RUDE LADY! If you are trying to find someone to talk to, look for the other person that is just standing there alone and go and talk to them.
- Set a goal in advance. Take time to observe the room and connect with the right people. Dont go into an event with no goal otherwise you will find yourself wasting a whole lot of time. Youll be burnt out and you will lose the energy to go out and meet new people. For me like I said before, I always set a goal to meet 2 people. They have certain characteristics. They talk a certain way. Walk a certain way. etc etc. I promise you anyone that I meet is most definitely not a waste of time. Dont just go passing your cards out to everyone. That is such a waste.
- Ask a good NON typical question to start conversation. So instead of being the typical networker stand out from everyone else. When getting to know someone you dont have to go into interview mode. “So tell me what do you do?” “How long you been doing that?” “How can I help you?” … I dunno but those questions Im just like so not the asker of. I like to ask questions like “Are you originally from here?” If they say no now you have something to talk about because you can ask them what moved them here. “What did you do over the weekend?” “Outside of networking what do they like to do for fun?” Trust me you have plenty of time to get to what they do and vice versa. Remember people like to do business with people they like. So your goal right now should be to find something you guys have in common. Thats how you build a relationship.
- Don’t forget to follow up. The fortune is in the follow up! Now how you follow up is also key. Also keep in mind that the follow up does not mean this is the pitch call. Your follow up should be simple. You can call them, text them, email them just letting them know it was nice to have met them. Maybe you can ask them if they know of any other events going on that week. The only time I schedule coffee if this is truly someone that I believe would be beneficial taking that time to get to know. Dont become that coffee shop meeting guru. A lot of these coffee meetings I see people doing never converts. Dont let someone take up all your time like that. Just follow up with them virtually and when the time is right then you have a physical one on one. 24 hours is a great time to follow up with someone via email or use social media.
- Don’t waste time with people are totally focused on selling. So you know who I am talking about. That person at the networking event that every single sentence is about their company or product. You ask them what they did this weekend. Oh I was on a conference call learning about one of our new product lines. Then you ask where are they from. They say where they are from and then add its because of the company and product line they live here. You know what I mean. Its like they are a total robot. They dont even ask you questions about yourself. They could care less. These type of people typically get no more than 3 questions (really 2) and I then keep it moving!
- Don’t talk so much. Learn to listen more than you talk to people. People looooove to talk and especially at networking events. You dont have to try to be the star at the event by talking talking talking talking. In fact in most cases it can be a turn off to that person. However because you know this, use this to your advantage. Get that other person to talk more about them, their family, what they like to do for fun, etc etc. Remember if they go into the trying to sell you over and over, end the conversation but also dont be the over talker competitor.
- Dont ask people to “Pick Their Brain”. I promise this one right here to me is kind of disrespectful especially if you are asking someone who gets paid for whats in their brain. Dont eeeeeever approach someone this way. Too many people are doing this. Instead, if this is someone that you truly value then ask to treat them to lunch. Maybe buy something they sell FIRST then ask if you could maybe meet them and have them bring it there. You just never know what a small investment could do. However even if you don’t have the money to buy the lunch dont ask the “PICK YOUR BRAIN” meetup request. Just ask if they are free for 15 minutes or so because you want to ask them a question about XYZ. Be specific in this request of what you want.
Anywho I pray that you enjoyed this post and it helps you out! Now its time to find some networking events. Workshops, Conferences, Meetups, Brunches etc etc are all great places to meet incredible people.