We’ve blogged about the importance of building a business network before and also why you shouldn’t be afraid to share your network. But for this post we’d like to share some of our thoughts on what to avoid when creating/expanding your network.
According to this article: There are two major categories of networking: macro and micro. Macro networking is what you do when you create content and share it with a larger audience, most of whom you have never had personal contact with. Micro networking is what you do when you reach out to specific individuals and groups in a more targeted and personal manner.
Micro networking is more effective, but requires more thought and time. Here’s some tips in how to avoid some common mistakes.
Effectively presenting your business and its value – the unique selling proposition (USP) – is vital because people need to understand what you do in order to successfully consider doing business with you.
If no one understands what you do or the services you offer, then you’re wasting your time — and it’s one of the most common mistakes business professionals make. A properly constructed USP can go a long way to curing your networking blues.
For Example, Our USP is:
“We help professional buyers of large companies and SME suppliers to meet, connect and communicate.”
This generally leads people to ask us, “How do you do that?” This question naturally leads the conversation on further, where we can go into more depth about what we offer.
Not following up after adding to your network is one of the worst networking mistakes. Most people make this error because they get caught up with their other responsibilities. It’s an innocent blunder, but not following up is not only a mistake but also counterproductive. You’d be better off NOT networking in the first place.
Remedying this mistake is all about putting a system in place so you form a habit after each networking event you attend. It’s like packing your gym bag the night before – doing so sets you up to make it to the gym the next morning.
This mistake is particularly troubling because we find the very idea of not immediately responding to a call from a networking partner very strange.
Treating each of your networking partners as one of your best clients is critical. You should always return phone calls from these people immediately, as it speaks to your credibility and reliability as a professional.
There have been countless examples of people receiving referrals at networking groups who go back to their places of business and finally get around to contacting the referral in a few days. The old phrase “If you snooze, you lose” is appropriate here.
Time is of the essence, and if the referral knows you had their name and number on Monday and took some time calling, that doesn’t send the best message.
Do not see every professional relationship as quid pro quo, where you should tally favors on either side, but also understand that even generous people won’t want to waste their time helping someone who won’t be able to assist them in some way down the line.
When building the conversation don’t go in “all guns blazing”. To put it another way: if you were on a first date, would you propose marriage to that person? You wouldn’t (normally), so why give the heavy sales pitch straight off the bat?
Most people hate when we feel like we’re being sold something, especially by someone we’ve just met. So, instead of giving your product pitch or trying to explain why you are highly qualified in your field, ask people questions. Try to create a real connection and build the relationship first. Get to know the person well and truly understand what they need.
In closing; Networking can have a bad reputation, especially with millennials. The process of spending your spare time at networking events where you may or may not meet meaningful contacts can be viewed as an exhausting, time-consuming experience.
However, with digital platforms and electronic devices being the forefront of the lives of millennials, it should be no surprise that these devices are bringing more opportunities and appeal to the networking game than ever before, increasing the pool of people that can network.