Have you ever been in a room with other business people?
It’s the ideal time to see if you can meet some new clients.
This may sound like a glib thing to say. However, I am always constantly surprised at how many potential new clients I meet in the strangest situations. Sometimes the most unlikely conversations lead to business opportunities. These all come from using my networking skills.
What is networking?
Networking is using the power of personal relationships to build business. Typically, this is in the form of an arranged event. These days, there are many organised business networking groups and events. However, I also look at exhibitions, conferences and other similar industry events as the ideal times to network.
My aim is to meet up with like-minded people who can help me and my business. Some of these people may be prospective clients. Others may be people who are prepared to refer my business. I may also meet people who can help me build my business through their services and connections.
In order to succeed at networking, it is important to approach it in the right manner. Unfortunately, many people fail to do this. Here are five of the most common mistakes that should be avoided when networking.
1. Being shy
It is easy to feel a lack of confidence when you are in a room full of people that you don’t know. However, at most events, the other people are in exactly the same situation as you.
Remember, your aim is to build your business network. You won’t achieve this by being silent. You may find it useful to practice a few things to say about you and your business. However, a second mistake is forgetting about the other person.
2. Making it all about you
Some people do not suffer from shyness at all. Instead they are practised at going on and on about themselves and their business. Networking is all about two people. That means being interested in the other person and what they do. You may find it useful to prepare a list of networking questions.
If you fail to show any interest in the other person, why should they put themselves out to help you? There’s one thing worse than making it all about you.
Networking is all about making connections with other people. It’s about seeing how you can help each other. If you network, it doesn’t mean that you have a room full of prospects. Remember, some of the most useful people you meet will not be potential clients at all. But they may well be able to introduce you to people who need your services.
Naturally, sometimes you will find yourself talking to the ideal prospect. I would still recommend leaving any sales conversations until a separate meeting. If you do meet a useful contact you risk making the next error.
4. Talking to too few people
A networking event is a time when you want to meet as many people as possible. You will want to move around the room. People will not be offended if you only have a short conversation with them. Rather than having long discussions with interesting people, schedule follow-up meetings with them.
If you do get stuck with someone, you can always introduce them to someone else. Alternatively, you can ask who else they know in the room.
With all these people around it is easy to make the final error.
5. Trying to remember everything said
You will need a very powerful memory if you are going to remember everything about all your contacts. I always make notes straight after meeting people at networking events. The other person’s business card can be the ideal place to jot down agreed actions or key points about them.
If you avoid these five errors you are well on the way to successful networking
In my next article I will outline some of the networking practices that will ensure your networking gets even greater business results.
If you’d like more ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them.” You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.