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Every entrepreneur knows – or should know – that networking is essential to achieve business success. However, not everyone has innate abilities to connect with other people and build long-term relationships.
We have all been victims (or perhaps victimizers) of bad networking practices. Have we ever met someone who just doesn’t like the first impression and doesn’t motivate a second interaction. What are these people doing? What mistakes are they making that prevent them from networking? Here we share some of the most common cases of terrible networkers. Avoid being one of them:
1. The yo-yo. Networking works in a similar way to any other human interaction, including love ones. Just like when you go on a date for the first time, talking only about yourself and how interesting you are will not generate good results. When you make a business contact, share only the basic and relevant personal information; the rest is about listening carefully. Only then will you be able to know what the other person is interested in and detect opportunities to offer something useful in the long term.
2. The “I know more than all” (or I think I know). The typical know-it-all is especially unpleasant and counterproductive in networking. To create solid contacts you have to accept: 1) that you cannot know everything and 2) that the other person may know something that you do not and that helps you grow your business. Again, listening is the key. Pay attention to what your interlocutor is saying and ask concise questions. If at any point the opportunity arises to demonstrate your expertise, do so, but in a humble and subtle way.
3. He “I get into other people’s conversations.” In practically any event there is the lonely soul that goes from group to group, getting into other people’s conversations, without any purpose. It’s okay to meet people, but not to interrupt or upset other people’s relationships. Try to introduce yourself individually, or do it when they start meeting after a break or at the end of the event.
4. The one with bad manners. There is always the one who gives you a wet hand, talks with his mouth full, scratches his nose while listening to you or leaves you in the middle of the sentence to go to the bathroom or answer his cell phone. Always try to be nice, shake hands (only if they are clean and dry), and avoid any tacky behavior. Also remember that women and men are equal and that in business it should be understood that way, so avoid exaggerated courtesy with the female sex.
5. The one who ignores those who do not care. Like the know-it-all, this character is quite superb and is only kind to people who he thinks he can get something from. However, keep in mind that you never know from whom a great idea or an alliance may come to boost your business and that you also do not know from whom you will need help in the future.
Once, a former colleague who never greeted me or had any kind of contact with me asked me to recommend him for a new job via LinkedIn. Clearly I couldn’t make the recommendation, firstly because I didn’t know his abilities, and secondly, because he only sought me out when he needed me. Big mistake doing that with people.
6. The “I never remember names.” It is one thing to have a bad memory and another is to see someone repeatedly and not be able to greet them by name (that is already disrespect). This lack of attention leaves a bad impression on the other person and is even annoying.
Look for techniques that help you remember; For example, on the business cards you receive, write a physical description of the person who gave it to you and their interests. Remember that generating points of contact and finding common ground is key to starting and maintaining relationships.
7. He “only ask (beg) favors.” Nothing worse than meeting a person and asking you for a favor in the first interaction. This is very different from having a conversation from which you or the other person may come up with ideas to help each other. If the person doesn’t know you, they are unlikely to grant you a favor. Better, work on the relationship and think first what you can offer him.
8. The compulsive seller . A serious mistake entrepreneurs make in networking is mistaking it for a sales opportunity. It is not, so do not try to put out your catalog or talk about the qualities of your product or service. If you achieve a good emotional connection, lasting business is likely in the future.
9. The one with the bad or offensive jokes. A sense of humor is a powerful tool for breaking the ice and creating friendships. However, when you first meet someone you don’t know if they will find what you say funny or not. If your style of meeting people is humorous, avoid racist, misogynistic or bad taste jokes at all costs. Forcing humor is a terrible strategy and can make the other person block you and not want to reconnect with you .
10. The “I don’t know what I’m doing here.” Before attending an event or conference, clearly define what your goals are and establish an action plan. Make sure you have a good pitch about yourself and what you do, keep it short and concise. He knows well the type of event and the people who will attend it; so you will know what topics to talk about and what to expect from it. Never go unprepared and without carrying several business cards with you (clearly, with a good design and all your contact details).
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