I believe the professional time you spend at “in person” networking events should be used to focus your valuable business-building time and energy on developing win-win relationships, cultivating new customers and building your reputation as an expert in your field. As a successful woman in business, are you networking effectively or, are you making one or more of these top five professional networking mistakes?
1. Not building win-win relationships.
Over my many years of attending networking events and beginning networking groups the number one thing I’ve learned is that networking is about building long term relationships. People want to do business with people they know, like and trust. It takes time and effort to build trustworthy professional relationships.
My suggestion is to approach every person as if you plan on interacting and doing business with them for many years to come. Your networking attitude will be more open and positive if your goal is to develop long term working relationships with the people you meet at your networking events.
2. Talking too much and not asking enough questions.
At networking events, the fastest way to turn someone off is to constantly talk about yourself. Here’s a networking success truth: One of your greatest relationship building tools is learning to be a good listener.
Here are two reasons why being a good listener is vital to networking success:
A. You can’t learn much about the other person if you’re doing all the talking;
B. You’ll find yourself respected as someone who is interested in others.
Networking is about building relationships, not hard selling. Ask thoughtful open-ended questions and then step back and listen attentively to the answers.
3. Going to networking events without a goal and a plan.
Before you arrive at a networking event, be clear about what you want to accomplish and why you want to accomplish it.
* Are you going to this event to support a fellow networker?
* Do you want to be a speaker for this group?
* Do you want to build relationships that will lead to future referrals?
* Do you want to find an accountability or mastermind buddy?
* Are you looking for new business opportunities?
When you have a goal and a plan, you’re more likely to stay focused on keeping the important things important.
4. Not making the most of every networking experieince.
Many people think networking is just about meeting and greeting. But, if you want to leverage your networking experieinces and make the most of your business-building time, your networking time should be spent cultivating win-win relationships.
As a woman in business, if you are going to join a networking group, become an active member. Become a greeter, a speaker, a blogger or help out in other ways. This is the time for the members to get to know, like and trust you as someone who is serious about doing business and building relationships.
5. Not following up in a timely manner!
Shoe boxes filled with business cards collected since 2009 isn’t an effective follow up system. Invest in a good contact management system and work your system consistently. Be disciplined enough to input data into your contact manager within a day or two of the networking event.
Within 24 hours of the event, call the people with whom you’d like to build a relationship. Next, set up a time for a more indepth meeting or a follow up call to be held within one week of the event. I’m a big believer that out of sight, out of mind. Follow up is golden and the window of opportunity for making a good first impression is limited. Plan your follow up and then follow your plan. Don’t waste your time, effort and money if you are not going to follow up!
What do you think, are there some areas in which you can improve on a few of your current networking skills?
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I’m Sharon Michaels and I teach you how to enjoy business success. http://SharonMichaels.com
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