Saturday, May 4, 2013

How NOT To Network!

I get invited to several events. And, I attend as many as possible. On a recent trip, I was invited to a networking event. I went with a friend and acted as an observer only because the event was not related to my industry. I learned a lot at this event. Not so much about networking, but more on how people behave and how not to network. Let's start with working the room. Oh, I could see people running once they made eye contact with a shark. You know, a shark is the type of person who wants to ABC (always be closing) with you. You're either a shark's prospect or you're not important. This led me to think about sales pitches and most of us business owners (and everyday employees) have to sell something. Are we all sharks? No. But there difference is only in the approach and not the purpose.

"Remember six degrees of separation? With the introduction and widespread use of social media and other technologies, a study from 2012 shows that these days, it's more like four degrees. The more people you know--really know--the more likely you are to make that important connection you need to take your career, company, or venture to the next level," via Inc.com.

No matter what event you are attending, networking isn't about prospects and non-prospects. I learned this first-hand. You have to engage people. Introduce yourself and gracefully pitch what you have to offer. Not everything is a hard-sale or cold-call. You can stand out in someone's mind without being overly aggressive or making him or her feel as if they serve no purpose to you. The best way to network is to be honest and genuine. After all, you're not selling a produce or service, you're selling yourself. I have a five day rule with people I meet at networking events.

My 5 day rule is as follows. First, treat everyone you meet equally. You never know where or who is going to send a referral your way. Take everyone's card and be as honest as possible. Next, ask questions. Learn more about the person you are networking with. Let him or her do most of the talking. Last, promise to follow up. If you feel you have a strong lead, or potential business referral resource, tell that person you want to get together for coffee within the next week. Follow up, via email, the next day and invite him or her to meet for coffee within five days. If they don't respond, can't make it, or cancel- move on. People who are serious about growing their networking database will make the effort to take an hour out for coffee- especially since you're treating!

The worst thing you can do at a networking event is be a hard-seller. Don't lie, don't exaggerate your capabilities and don't be obnoxious. Be yourself, do your follow-up, and always thank people for their time.

Speaking of which........
Thank you for YOUR time,

Twyla Garrett, owner of IME.

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