Your 10 BIG Networking Mistakes

And How to Correct Them

Written by:

Dan Gordon

Lead Marketing Strategist, The BigTime Group

Date: 04.11.16

Networking is an essential part of any marketing effort, and so many people get it WRONG! Here are some hints from The BigTime Group to help you get it right.

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MISTAKE 1: Starting a conversation with, “So what do you do?”

BORING! Everyone at networking events begin their conversations like this. Here’s your opportunity to stand out. Instead of jumping right into business chatter, be original. Pick out something on which you can compliment them. Something like, ‘Nice watch’, ‘Cool shoes’, ‘That’s a great outfit’, ‘I love that necklace.’ Starting with a compliment or positivity is a great way to open someone up and begin a connection.

MISTAKE 2: Starting a conversation talking about yourself.

Never ever, ever open a conversation by telling the other person about you. Instead, deflect the conversation away from yourself and ask questions about THEM. When others feel that you are interested in them, they judge you as smarter and more trustworthy. Also, by asking questions, you can determine how your business can be valuable to them.

MISTAKE 3: Talking too long about your business.

Have a 30 second buzzer in your head. Don’t talk about your business any longer than that before relating the conversation back to the other person. Ask them if they have had a similar experiences, how they handled a similar situation or simply ask them their opinion. If you find yourself going on too long, stop mid-sentence and apologize. Be humble. It’s endearing.

MISTAKE 4: Talking about the technical details of what you do.

Let’s say you own a tire store. Don’t launch right in to talking about all the different types of tires you sell. If you’re a lawyer, don’t talk about all the kinds of legal services you offer. Instead, tell a story. Talk about a person you helped. Spice it up with a little drama. Talk about how they were stressed prior to working with you. Explain what you did to help them and save the day. It won’t sound like bragging if you stay focused on being grateful for having a business that gives you the opportunity to be in service to other people.

MISTAKE 5: Presenting yourself as just another lawyer, accountant, real estate agent, etc.

You always want to show up in the room as a thought leader in your industry. That means speaking knowledgeably and having specific opinions about your business. The greatest way to get others to think of you as valuable is to freely offer advice and the benefit of your experience. Help them on the spot with a specific problem. Use language like:

  • “Can I make a suggestion?”
  • “Here’s what I know about (the problem they’re facing) ”
  • “The mistake I see a lot of people making with this is…”

By being the person at the event who is the most knowledgeable and helpful, you immediately stand out from all the other people who are just trying to sell their services.

MISTAKE 6: Dancing the Business Card Boogie.

Don’t just run around passing people your business card and getting theirs. Don’t even offer someone your business card in the first minute of the conversation. In fact, don’t offer someone your business card EVER! Wait until your have first established a rapport with them. Get to know that person and develop a real connection. Then (and only then) ask for their card. Now it feels genuine. They will likely want yours in return.

MISTAKE 7: Pocketing a business card and moving on.

Ever come home from a networking event with a hand full of business cards thinking, “Who are all these people?” You can’t expect to remember details about everyone you met. Instead, get their card, walk a few steps away and write notes on the back. For instance, let’s say that you sell car insurance and the guy you spoke to has kid going to college soon. Write that down. When you follow up with him, reference the son’s name and talk about the great insurance plans you offer for college students. He’ll be amazed you remembered!

MISTAKE 8: Scanning the room while the other person is speaking.

When engaged in a conversation, don’t look around the room to see what else is going on. Maintain fierce eye contact and wait for them to look away first. Develop a GENUINE interest in other people. As they talk, nod so they know you are hearing them. Don’t fake it either. Let them feel that you are truly interested. Be the kind of person who really listens to them instead of the kind of person who is just waiting for their turn to talk.

MISTAKE 9: Answering, “What do you do for a living?” with what you do for a living.

Don’t just give a clinical description of your job like, “I own a tire store.” BORING! Instead, draw pictures in people’s minds. Inspire their curiosity and imagination. Say something like, “I make sure that families are safe on the roads.” This will make the other person curious and want to know more. Talk about why you got into your line of work and what keeps you passionate about it. Tell stories of your favorite clients or customers. Keep people on the edge of their seat.

MISTAKE 10: Wearing hip or sexy clothing instead of dressing professionally.

So many people at networking events try to come off as the coolest one in the room. These gatherings can often look like an amateur fashion show. People think that the way to win business is to “stand out.” WRONG! If that was true, you should wear a blinking light on your head. Forget the funky hat, the perfectly ripped jeans and the hipster shirt. Instead, dress like the person who is serious about what they do. People want to do business with those they trust, not those showing skin or those with the coolest wardrobe!