Are You Making These 6 Major Networking Mistakes?
Six Networking Mistakes That You Should Avoid
1. Not Using LinkedIn
Not all networking opportunities take place in person. The internet has made it possible to build connections anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. One of the best tools that makes this possible is LinkedIn, which has over 4.67 million users, and is an incredible resource for connecting with people in your industry.
Use LinkedIn groups to find people with similar interests, backgrounds, and career goals as yourself. For example, you might join an alumnus group for your alma mater, another for young nonprofit professionals, and a local group focused on volunteering around your city. You can make valuable connections in each, all of which can benefit your business!
2. Skipping Networking Events
One of the worst mistakes you can make with networking is simply not showing up. While online networking is great, it shouldn’t be a complete replacement for meeting people face-to-face. By meeting others in-person, it’s much easier to make a personal connection and find out how you can help each other grow your businesses and meet your professional goals. Try these tips for finding networking events near you and start signing up. You never know who you might meet!
3. Leaving Business Cards at Home
Business cards make it easy to give out your information to anyone who might be a potential customer or business partner. Start by designing eye-catching business cards that include all of your relevant personal and business information. Then, be sure to bring the cards with you any time you’re networking. After a conversation, trade business cards so you can follow up on that conversation later.
4. Making it All About You
While it’s understandable that you’re going to a networking event to move forward in your career, you shouldn’t make the entire event or even individual conversations revolve around you. A networking event is about meeting other people and learning how you can help each other. Of course, when anyone asks about your business, you should give them a solid answer. Then, ask questions about their business. Avoid one sided conversations and try to focus on how you can assist others. They’ll usually respond by finding ways to help you as well.
5. Not Following Up After Events
When you leave a networking event, you’ll likely have a pile of business cards from the people you made connections with. A common mistake is to put those cards to the side and not follow up with the people you met. Find those people on LinkedIn and get connected. If you felt an especially strong connection with one or two specific people, you might even want to reach out in an email or with a phone call and ask them to get together for coffee. Your goal should be to continue the conversation and find out how you can help each other through this new professional relationship.
6. Following Up Too Much
On the flip side, it’s possible to go too far with your follow ups. Keep in mind that the people you’ve met are probably just as busy as you are. They might not have time for a phone call or coffee date. Be respectful if someone declines your invitation and don’t bombard anyone with multiple requests.
With a little extra time and effort, networking can be one step toward growing your business. Attend events that seem like a good fit and get involved with groups you click with. Use the tips above to make the most of every event and learn from the people you meet. Over time, you’ll learn lessons you never would have gotten elsewhere.
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