I begin this series with what not to do because we all know that in business, right or wrong, the thing you do wrong overshadows all the good you do.
Networking your business is important and there are skills that you need to acquire to be effective. Not everyone thinks they are a “networker,” but it’s likely all business owners understand networking is the best way to build relationships and anyone can become a good networker. Networking, like any tool in business, needs to be used to gain the skills. A tool on the shelf helps no one.
As I network around town, I have found there are some things that completely turn me off when I meet someone doing these next five things.
1. Showing Up Late, Leaving Early, or Having Spotty Attendance
This is one that is three-fold and is especially true when you join a “Business Exclusive” group. For me, networking is a sales meeting on my calendar. Once it’s set, it doesn’t change. If another sales opportunity arises at that time, I handle it as I would any other opportunity. I’d tell the prospect that I am scheduled at that time. Networking is about building relationships, you can’t build them when you are not there.
We can all agree that when people show up late, leave early or only show up now and then, it tells us that our time is not as important. Yes, emergencies arise and when you just can’t be there, send someone as your substitute. Everyone in the group makes a commitment to be there… Remember, you need to know someone before you would do business with them. Why would you give a referral to someone you don’t know well?
2. Passing Cards to Everyone
Usually seen at larger public Chamber events, we have all witnessed the person “working” the room. A stack of cards in their hands. Interrupting conversations, and sticking cards in people’s faces. I can’t believe this tactic works, but when I see it, I simply smile and wonder…. I always ask for permission to give a card. It is always after I learn about their business and they have interest in mine, then I ask, “May I give you a card?” Why would I give a card to someone without interest in my business?
3. Only Talk About Your Business
I have noticed there are those that are more than happy to tell you about themselves and then never ask about you. When I meet someone, I want to learn about them first. If one only talks about themselves, they can come off as a braggart.
4. Not Bringing Business Cards
If a plumber showed up without tools would you have a good feeling of their work? Really, if the function is networking, meeting new a business that could help you build your business and if you don’t bring any cards, you may as well stay home and wait for the next one.
5. General Phone Use When Someone is Talking
We are all guilty of this! At many meetings, you get 30 seconds to a minute to do your “elevator” pitch. When I’m speaking and I see someone on their phone, it tells me they are obviously not interested in what I have to say. The best advice I can give is to put your phone on airplane mode or turn it off for the meeting. I know it’s hard, but we can do it! Together!
These are the main five things NOT to do. There are more, but just try to view yourself from the 20 foot above look. Ask yourself if you are being the best, most interesting source for your business. If you present yourself well and continue to be the best advocate of your profession, you will build strong relationships.
Please check out these YouTube videos that will visually delight you as you learn more about what NOT to do. The final video ends with three tips to do so you won’t be remembered for the wrong thing.