6 Things to Never Do at a Networking Event
Selling Your Products and Services
I walked into a networking event a couple of weeks ago and the first person to greet me was a recruiter. As he introduced himself, he mentioned his profession and asked about my staffing needs. After my reply, he offered his services, gave me his business card, shook my hand, and went back to his perch to wait for the next victim to walk into the event. I needed a shower. Networking is about meeting people with a focus on learning from them and potentially helping them if and when you can. NOT pitching your products and services. Remember, you’re just getting to know the people that you meet!
Adding Those You Meet to Your Newsletter or Blog
Having someone hand you their business card is NOT the same thing as requesting to be on your newsletter, blog, or email blast list. But how many times has this happened to you? Or how many times have you just added people to your list? One word: spam. Adding those to your list without permission is presumptuous and comes across as salesy. When you’re at an event and exchange cards, if they’re interested in learning about what you do and the value you add, ask them if they would be interested in receiving your blog or newsletter. Once they give you permission, write it down on their business card and have at it.
Dominating the Conversation
Conversations should be a two way street. I talk, you talk. Depending on your communication style, the exchange should be close to a 50-50 proposition. Even if the timing doesn’t work out just right, the conversation should still feel collaborative. Although I’m outgoing and love to talk to interesting people, if I feel someone is much more interested in talking about themselves than learning more about me and how we might potentially help one another, I shut down. I’m simply done with you. That said, if I think there’s value and the person that’s chatting me up is just excited about something specific (a brand new client, a new business, a fun day, a great connection, a new watch, their kid being accepted to college, overcoming an illness, etc.), well, there are exceptions. Use your best judgement but the bottom line is when meeting others for the first time, you want to feel good about them (and good about yourself) and one of the best ways is to feel that conversations are mutually beneficial. Unless, of course, you want to brag about that new watch.
Asking Others to Promote Your Event through an Email Blast
Awkward. How many times have you met someone at an event and they want you to promote a workshop, seminar, or event on their behalf? It’s a difficult situation to be in. And it’s awkward sometimes even if you know them. Sure, arrangements and exceptions can be made but it has to feel right. Best to ask someone to pick and choose specific people that would be a fit for the event rather than put someone in a position to blast an announcement through email, blog, or social media. Common theme – think relationship first.
Over Promising and Under Delivering
You meet all kinds of characters when attending events. Those looking to sell their products and services, social butterflies, business card exchangers, those looking for “dates”, and the like. Then there are those looking to do the right thing and focus on helping others succeed in their business. One of the most common things I hear is go to my LinkedIn database once we connect and let me know who you want to meet and I’ll introduce you. Their heart might be in the right place but again, relationships happen at the speed of trust. And it should take time to develop the relationship before having others pick and choose who they want to meet. This is just one form of over promising and potentially under delivering. Other forms might include mentioning big clients that you’re willing to offer as introductions, important information that you’re willing to provide, or business opportunities that may never develop. Take it slow, get to know one another over time, follow up, stay in touch, and see what happens.
Networking like so many things is a process, not an event. Don’t make the mistake of jumping the gun and making things happen too quickly. The best way to develop a relationship is to be interested in them, offer help, follow through, follow up, and have a mechanism for staying in touch for the long haul.
If all else fails, just add them to your blog!
Michael Goldberg, has helped thousands of agents, reps, advisors, brokers, planners, and producers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to their bottom line. His expertise is in the areas of networking, referrals, recruiting – and believe it or not – amateur boxing! Michael is a two-time TEDx speaker and has been featured at numerous industry conferences. To learn more, visit www.KnockOutNetworking.com.