The 5 Biggest Networking Mistakes
In almost every handbook on how to develop and promote businesses, the importance of networking is emphasied and a Google search with the keywords “business networking” produces almost 550 million results as of May 2018. Networking is a valuable way to learn from other professionals, industry experts and scholars, generate referrals and business, raise your profile and increase confidence.
However, there are some traps when doing business networking. Below are the five biggest networking mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Only contacting people when you need something
“How are you? I heard that your organization is looking for a new CTO. Could you please recommend me for that position? Thanks in advance and best wishes”: This example may be a little exaggerated, but many people only contact the members of their network to ask them a favour.
Don’t be that person! Contact your network regularly, follow up after events, do someone a favour, stay up-to-date and show interest in your contacts’ professional lives.
2. Forget how you met
It is not only a lack of respect to the contact who introduced you but may also give your new contact the impression that the first time had not been memorable enough, to the point where you forget how and where you first got in touch.
Make a list of your contacts, add every person you rate as valuable to the list and include the middlemen or multipliers who introduced you. This knowledge can be helpful in opening a conversation the next time you meet and in establishing a long-term business relationship.
3. Come unprepared
If you attend a networking event without knowing who will be in attendance, you can miss opportunities to meet interesting people because you don’t recognize them or have no idea how to start a conversation with the person you are interested in.
Before going to an event, scan the list of attendees and do a quick research on the participants you would like to connect with. This research should include the following information:
- current employer and job position
- recent changes within the person’s organization
- educational background, special skills
- personal interests listed on the company website or communicated openly on social media
In Switzerland, where every city can be reached within less than half a day, it is not unusual that various event attendees studied at the same schools or worked for the same employers at some point, grew up geographically close to each other or are members of the same special-interest clubs. Common ground is the best ice-breaker – independent of the hierarchical position.
4. Just talking about yourself
Especially people looking for business or new career opportunities, tend to talk a lot about themselves. It is tempting to try to emphasize all your strengths within the first minutes of talking but studies have shown that most people feel more connected to their conversation partners if they are good listeners.
Show interest in your contacts, ask relevant questions, listen actively and show that you understand what the other person is saying. You don’t have to remember every single fact but memorize the central idea. This will help you reconnecting at the next occasion you meet and makes following-up after the event easier.
5. Always connecting with the same types
Are you your own multiplier in at least 60% of the cases? If the answer to this question is “yes”, your network is mostly built based on similarities to yourself. However, a network is more beneficial to your career if the people you know are not mainly out of the same professional, private or hierarchical sphere of interest.
Talk to people outside your professional bubble at events. This will enhance your general knowledge, increase your confidence, lead to unforeseen business opportunities and raise your profile – which makes you more attractive to interact with.
Insights on networking have been provided by James Sanders, project manager and start-up coach at F10 FinTech Incubator & Accelerator during a Masterclass at F10 in Zurich.
Find out more about the F10 Accelerator Program: http://www.f10.ch/startup-program