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5 of the most common mistakes when it comes to networking
Networking isn't as easy as going to a conference and shaking some hands then partnering up with large corporations. You will actually have to do a lot of work after meeting the person you're networking with in order to see the best results possible. One of the biggest reasons people fail, when it comes to networking, is that they don't follow up with the person they talked with in the past. The failure comes when the person thinks they have an iron clad business relationship after talking briefly a single time, which doesn't happen. If you're just starting out with any sort of networking, you will likely be rusty, but luckily you're here and that means you want to learn how to do it properly
I've been to plenty of meet and greets, conferences, seminars, etc. and networked with plenty of big wigs in the industry and gotten then to call me back for meet ups and luncheons to go over more possible work between our two companies. I didn't start out landing things like this, I failed plenty of times before anyone was willing to work with me, but my failures are going to help you leap frog the learning process and bring in more leads and referrals quicker than I did myself
In this discussion I'll be covering the 5 most common mistakes when it comes to networking. It doesn't matter what industry you're in, you will kill your relationship with someone if you do any of these.
You aren't following up with them
Like I mentioned before, if you don't follow up with someone after you're done networking, you're likely going to kill that business relationship. Most of the time this happens because you get to busy with your previous tasks that keep your business running, which is understandable to all of us, but your potential client or new business partner won't care much about why you didn't follow up with them. If you don't follow up with someone, it's like you didn't even network in the first place.
To fix this bad habit, you need to have a schedule set up so you call back anyone you talk with. You will need to set aside a day, after the event, where you can just call and chat with the people you talked with. It doesn't have to be the very next day, because that will just make you look eager, and no one likes that. I like to do my calls a week after the event, so people still remember who I am but they don't think I'm eager to get them to work with me.
You don't have a clear USP
Not having a clear Unique Selling Proposition (USP) will be a killer when it comes to networking because people won't know what you're talking about. If you're networking at an event that isn't in your exact industry, you will need to adjust your USP so people know exactly what you're talking about. A good example of this would be if I were at an online marketing expo, I could get super detailed in what we do in terms of SEO and SEM. If I were at a Carpenter Business Owners conference, I would basically have to say something along the lines of "We help anyone with a website get top rankings in the search engines so they get more traffic and sales." Then I'll usually get a few follow up questions, and my answer is usually something along the lines of "Think of it this way, how many times have you been on Google and clicked to the second or third page to find something you needed? Getting to the first page will make you 10x as many sales as if you were on the top of the second page."
My USP changes based on who I'm talking to, but it always contains what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, in as little amount of words as possible. I will try to see it from the persons point of view, and I will pitch to them how I think they would want to hear it. If you can do that, you can close any lead that is in front of you
Not responding to referrals from your network
This is one of the biggies that can kill your network fairly quickly. Basically, a website that you're partnered with is sending you leads and you're not talking to them. You're essentially making both companies look bad because they person who referred you is trusted by the referral, and now the trust is lost a little due to you not even responding. Now the network partner isn't trusting you as much and likely won't send you any more leads.
It's pretty easy to answer an email or pick up a phone call and talk to someone for a few minutes, so do it! If you're not doing this, you're not going to succeed as much as you could have. You want to be seen as a professional, so respond to everyone that is sent to you, no matter if you want to or not.
Don't abuse any of your relationships with the network
Think of it this way, if you were invited to a birthday and decide to show up even though you aren't best friends with the person in your network, you might go just to show your face. What would you think, if you did go to this birthday, if you walked in and they were pitching everyone a business opportunity? You would feel like you're being taken advantage of and you would lose trust in the person who invited you.
If you want your network to trust you, you need to stop abusing your relationship with them. Call on them when you need them and send them clients when you can perform the tasks they are asking of you. Building a healthy business relationship will go a long way when it comes to having loyal clients since the will be referrals
If you've been networking, and it hasn't been working for you at all, it could be due to one of the things I mentioned above. Go through the list again and figure out if you're doing any of them, if you are, you need to adjust your approach when networking and build solid relationships. I've been networking for along time and I know that some business relationships just don't last for odd reasons, but most of the time they fail because I've messed something up myself. I've adjusted over the years and now have a great network to send leads to and recieve them as well You can do the same as me, it just takes practice and patience to build up your own network!
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