I spend so much of my time focussed on helping ambitious professionals to do the ‘right’ things it’s all too easy to overlook the converse. Here are five networking mistakes that are best avoided if you want your networking efforts to be worthwhile.
Don’t play business card confetti
There is no point in giving your business card to everyone you meet. It’s unreasonable to hope or worse to expect that they will treasure the card and know when to contact you in the future. If they haven’t met you properly and you haven’t been recommended to them there is next to no chance that they will hang onto your card. The very best you can hope is that you’ll get added to their mailing list (if they have one).
Don’t go out without your business cards
You will inevitably reduce the prospect of anyone keeping in touch with you if you can’t give them your business card. So make sure you have a plentiful supply and that you can reach them easily when someone asks for one.
Don’t talk too much
We have two ears and one mouth and should use our faculties in the same proportion when networking. The more we can learn about the people we meet the more likely we will be able to identify whether or not they have need of our services.This is especially important if, like me, you have more than one service line. By listening more than you talk you will also show yourself to be a more interesting person because you are more interested in the person to whom you are in conversation.
Don’t expect instant results
You are bound to be disappointed if you attend networking events in the hope of returning with specific leads and opportunities to sell your services. Networking is a ‘long game’ especially when you are a professional adviser. Most prospective clients are only likely to engage someone whom they know, like and trust. This rarely happens immediately after a first meeting.
Don’t break your promises
If you are lucky or clever enough to identify an opportunity to send something to the people you meet at networking events, you had better ensure you fulfil your promise.
This is a classic opportunity to evidence that you can be trusted. And trust is generally a key requisite before anyone engages a professional adviser. I explained a method by which you can always offer to follow up in a recent entry on this blog.
Edit 2013: You can get my 10,000+ word book specifically for accountants who want to Network more effectively. Just click here for full details>>>
If you would like to book me to speak on the subject at your in-house conference or training session, do get in touch. There’s an outline of my talk on ‘How to ensure your networking activity is successful’ here>>>