When you have the opportunity to network, do you handle it well or is it a big failure? To take advantage of the benefits of interacting with other people, you must prepare yourself, be yourself and learn to listen.
Although online networking has dominated the last ten years in many ways, private networking (conferences, conventions, workshops, fairs, etc.) is still the best way to meet and interact with colleagues, potential partners, and mentors. If you are new to the networking scene and want to learn how to master it, avoid these five common mistakes of entrepreneurs:
Be too pushy.
If you enter an event with the attitude of a used car salesman, you will immediately drive everyone around. Yes, you want to end up being known at the end of the day, but not by being an arrogant or annoying person.
To avoid this image, ask questions about the other person instead of just making affirmations about your business. Take the time to listen and do not just wait for your turn to speak. With this strategy, you will be perceived as interesting. And do not worry, they’ll ask you if you do.
Focus only on big fish.
Clearly, there are people at the events that everyone wants to talk about, like the speaker, the full pocket investor or the successful entrepreneur. But there are others with which it is also worth interacting, so stop chasing only the big names.
Better, circulate and discover people with interesting and useful information and also be fun. Eventually, you’ll get a chance to talk to the big boys, but you never know if the shy man in the corner is a hidden gem
Try too much to impress.
Do you feel minuscule in the dough? Many people try to compensate for this feeling by presenting themselves as more important than they are. It is tempting to boost your resume and boast of future successes, but the odds are that you will discover the truth, which will make you look like someone unreliable and rather silly.
This could cost you the opportunity to get mentors or other benefits. The conclusion: Be yourself. You will gain more respect and make more real connections.
It can be overwhelming to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs, some of whom are much further away than you. Do not let that fact stop you from showing yourself and talking to people.
If you’ve never attended an event like these, start small. Approach someone who is also alone and say something like, “Is this the first time you visit?” The answer does not matter; the goal is to start a conversation. In few seconds you will know if the person is attractive or not. If it is not, make up a casual excuse and move on. There are likely to be more guys like you who do not know how to do networking and who appreciate being approached.
But a warning: although I mentioned that you should not only contact the big fish, do not stick to the thin ones either. You need to have the courage to engage in other conversations, but you will never maximize the benefits of networking.
Not being prepared.
So far we have not discussed the purpose of networking, which is to help grow your business. Sooner or later someone will ask you what you do or what your business is. Take advantage of your chance to shine. Practice your elevator pitch, have business cards on hand and be prepared to answer any questions.
You could show your enthusiasm and go deeper if your response was positive. Make sure you are reciprocal and ask about your business. The best kind of networking is a real exchange between two people who can benefit from sharing information, ideas, and resources.
As you perform more networking activities, you will build your comfort, and the right behavior will come naturally. Then, you can get the most benefit from networking: the opportunities to talk to smart people, interesting and passionate about the companies they are creating.