The Ten Ways to Suck at Networking

May 27, 2009 at 7:36 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Adrian's Network, entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, Sales Training, small business | 3 Comments

Of course, everyone knows that making a lucrative connection can happen at a networking event. Yet, many of us continue to unknowingly suck at networking and then wonder why we aren’t having any “luck” at meeting key people.

The majority of these “unlucky” souls are simply guilty of committing one or all of ten common mistakes made at networking events. Try correcting the following faux pas at your next networking event, and you might just find that your networking luck has made a dramatic turn for the better.

1. It’s All About Me
Nothing is more of a turn-off to fellow networkers than the person who only wants to talk about him or herself. Instead of being egocentric and self-important, remember that conversation is a two-way street. It’s not all about what someone can do for you. Instead, ask relevant questions that show you’re listening. Then, from their answers, determine if and how you can possibly help them. You will inevitably have the chance to share what you do or what you are looking for, but give your fellow networker the first opportunity to share their information. You will not only appear to be more engaging and friendly, you will also dramatically up your chances of finding people who truly want to help you.

2. Dump Out of a Conversation
Are you guilty of unceremoniously and abruptly ending a conversation with someone because you’ve deemed them unimportant to your networking goals? Yes, you can and should politely disengage yourself so that you can meet other people if a conversation isn’t productive, but the key is to do it in a civilized and professional manner. You would be surprised how quickly a reputation of bad manners can follow you and hurt your networking opportunities. Remember the golden rule and be gracious to everyone. As well, don’t make quick assumptions. That franchise owner or sales rep you think can’t help you might very well have an unbelievable collection of well-connected friends who he or she might be willing to share with you if you take the time to find out.

3. Don’t Follow Up
This is a no-brainer, but, surprisingly, many of us never follow up on the leads that we obtain during an event. Gathering names will do you absolutely no good unless you take that next step to reach out to them. Don’t wait for others to call you. Be proactive!

4. It’s All About the Food, Isn’t It?
It’s hard to meet and greet if you are juggling a drink, a plate, and have a mouthful of food. Your goal is to connect with others, shake hands, hand out cards, and take notes. It’s true that the drink and buffet lines are great places to meet people, but don’t forget that this is a networking event, not the time for a five course meal.

5. It’s Party Time
Many networking events involve getting together over drinks. One cocktail or glass of wine can certainly loosen up conversation and may help many individuals feel a bit more relaxed. However, downing multiple glasses of anything alcoholic is a recipe for disaster. Not only will you begin to lose the ability to communicate effectively, you will also appear to be someone who is unprofessional and not networking-worthy. Save the shots of tequila for when you’re out with close friends and don’t go to a networking cocktail social on an empty stomach.

6. Hang Out With Your Buddies
If you’re at an industry networking event, you will inevitably run into some old friends. Sure, it’s great to catch up, but the purpose of the get-together is to meet new people. If you want to congregate with your friends, make plans for when you’re done networking.

7. Exaggerate
Networking events are rife with exaggerators. Many feel insecure and think that they need to beef up what they do and what they can offer if they’re going to be successful at making new connections. Unfortunately, telling tall tales almost always backfires. No one is going to believe your Bill Gates’ closest confidante, and you’ll look like a fool for making such a claim. Stick to the truth, and you’ll be respected for being who you are.

8. Be a Downer
Sure, the economy sucks right now. We all get it. However, do you need to whine about it to everyone who turns your direction? Probably not! Keep networking conversation positive and upbeat. Talk about what is working for you and how you are weathering the economy effectively and you’re bound to have plenty of people who will want to listen to what you’re saying.

9. Blow the Joint
Networking events are not all created equal. Some are rip-roaring affairs with hundreds of people dressed to the hilt. Others are quiet, subdued, and under-attended. However, you can’t assess if it will be productive for you until you participate. It’s easy to walk in and immediately walk out; dismissing it as a useless affair. But, the best networkers wouldn’t let any opportunity to meet others slip through their hands. If you’ve committed yourself to going, at least stay there long enough to gather a few leads.

10. Give Up
Have you attended a few events and haven’t received any new business? Are you threatening to give up altogether on networking? Not so fast. Before you hang in the towel, take a closer look at why you’re not having success. Then, refocus your energies on helping others instead of just trying to grab business for yourself. It will definitely give you a different and more positive perspective.

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3 Comments »

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  1. […] Adrian Miller, author of “The Blatant Truth”, 10 Ways to Suck at Networking. I was at the New England Networkers event last night and am going to the Cambridge Business […]

  2. This is wonderfully written advice. Thank you for the words of wisdom I just happened to need at the moment.

  3. Thanks for this blog – its always useful to remind ourselves what NOT to do!! I’ve certainly experienced ‘the old boys club’ at networking events and also the feeling that I’m interrupting a personal social gathering – as a network manager, my guidance is always;
    – be yourself
    – be genuinely curious and interested in what others do (don’t eliminate people on the night!)
    – only give and take cards from people you genuinely feel could be of interest to follow up with (remember your cards cost you money!!)
    – if you do share cards, follow up with that person within 48 hours of attending the event by email and perhaps set up a 1:1 coffee chat with them within 2 weeks
    – I often recommend to networkers that they aim to move to 5 spots in the room during the open networking – its a little secret challenge which will help them ‘work the room’
    There are some great funny videos on You Tube too – check one of them out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=IE&hl=en-GB&v=XuM0KtW73WU&feature=PlayList&p=3330C85F8CB6EC5E&index=3


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