Today's business is all about relationships. Business networking is a critical strategy and tactic to build those critical business relationships. In observing business owners, executives and sales people at numerous networking events and coaching many of these same individuals, I have recognized 7 consistent networking mistakes. If you avoid these 7 mistakes, you should quickly build your business in the New Year.
Mistake #1 - No plan, no goals
Without a networking plan, you waste your valuable resources of time, energy and money. Your networking activities should be aligned to the marketing plan and specific goals within your strategic plan.
Mistake #2 - Poorly constructed elevator speech
The first 7 words that you speak when meeting a potential client, AKA as a prospect, may be the only chance you have with that individual. Your elevator speech should be a series of sentences that are linked together with each sentence "elevating" your story.
Mistake #3 - Too busy telling
As an old mentor said "If you are telling, you ain't selling." The primary goal of the networking event is to make a friend, not to make a sale.
Mistake #4 - No tracking
Attending networking event after event without tracking the results, again wastes limited resources. Contacts, appointments and eventual sales from each networking opportunity should be tracked to determine sales to close ratio as well as client acquisition costs. This is especially true is you belong to a specific business networking group.
Mistake #5 - Talking to "Knowns"
Networking event presents opportunities to cold call in a warmer environment. Since many sales people hate cold calling, they end up talking to "known" friends instead of finding "unknowns."
Mistake #6 - Poor etiquette
Not understanding how or when to join a group of individuals talking with each other is a continual etiquette problem. Additional poor etiquette includes handshakes, introductions and even table manners.
Mistake #7 - Not being present
Many times networking attendees believe the goal is to collect as many business cards as possible. In their haste to meet that next prospect, they are not present with the current prospect. This does achieve the goal of making a friend.
By avoiding these 7 business networking mistakes, you may be able to enhance your networking activities and reap even greater rewards in the New Year.