Are You Making these 5 Networking Mistakes?

5 Networking Mistakes to Avoid | Maroon Oak
Some networking connects are more memorable than others - for the wrong reasons! Are you making any of the 5 networking mistakes that can hurt your career?
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As an entrepreneur and speaker, I meet plenty of new connects each month at events and networking meetings. Typically, we share intros in a group or one-on-one. We talk business, exchange stories & business cards and try to keep in touch.

Admittedly, plenty have polished pitches and sound bites – interesting, informative and occasionally, very salesy too.

Then there are the others.

Here are 5 examples of bad networking that I remember because of what they didn’t do right.

It’s a Quick Pitch. Not your Biography

I was at an event with a huge turnout and everyone waited for their turn at an introduction. Early on was this professional who went on to share her life story that was not only overlong, but also irrelevant to both the audience and the topic. Even worse, she remained oblivious to the fidgets and bored expressions of others.

Networking events are time-bound – everyone wants a chance to have their say. In bigger groups especially, intros have time limits that are often stated upfront.

Plus, with diminishing attention spans, long pitches can be a turnoff so don’t exceed a minute or two.

Also Read 7 e-Networking Tips Every Professional Needs

Long Story Short

Here’s an entrepreneur who kept her pitch to zero. Zilch!

The reason – her product concept was so complicated that I would need  to watch a 14 minute video to understand how their shopping service worked.

Could she explain to me in 2 minutes, I asked.

No, but how long was 14 minutes anyway? And I really had to view it to understand it all.

Sorry, not happening.

Unless it’s rocket science, your business premise should be easy to understand. If you don’t have enough clarity to nail down your pitch, how do you expect someone else to grasp it.

Also Read 6 Strategies to Enrich your In-person Networking with Facebook

Request. Don’t Expect. And Please Don’t Demand

A founder of a TV service asked me what I did, looked at my business card and told me point blank – it’s no good, you can’t do anything for me. And then he stepped too close for either comfort or courtesy and demanded – now tell me, how can you help my company?

A networking connection is a success if both parties walked away with a desire to pursue the connect. Rarely are deals made at first meetings and truthfully, no one owes us anything.

Also Read Building a Positive Network – The lessons I learnt

Don’t Persist. Don’t Prolong

Then there are the ones who won’t let you get away.

I lost an opportunity to connect with 3 or 4 prospects at the end of an event, when a woman monopolized my time and attention to pitch her revolutionary sales training technique. Not only did she insist on talking at me non-stop, she ignored my panicked looks darting towards the others, as they made their way out, taking away any chance I had to speak with them.

Instead, had she heeded my requests to chat later, I’d have been more amenable to a conversation. I might also have connected her to others or invited her to events that I’m a part of. That’s the way business connects work.  

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Card Shark – Not Cool!

This woman at a group event dashed from table to table, handing out her cards without sharing her name or even a simple hello. Most people didn’t even pick up her card.

Yes, ideally, Networking events should enable an exchange of info and business cards. And yet, some events are styled differently and we have to make the most of them.

I encountered a similar situation at another event, so I briefly spoke to a few attendees, exchanged cards and wrote in my follow up email – didn’t get a chance to talk with you at length, but look forward to connecting again soon. Within hours, I had LinkedIn invites to connect from 3.

Also Read 8 Reasons Why You Should Network Digitally

Content Courtesy

Another event had a one-of-a-kind delegate whose inappropriate narrative had both the attendees and the hosts cringing. Pretty sure she didn’t make a connection with too many people there.

Questions like race, politics, relationships or visa status are best left alone or kept for different platforms. A lot of people can sound ignorant, naive or condescending in their remarks or side stories. Even if it’s unintended, the damage is done.

While making an impact counts, bland is better than controversial.

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So what makes Good Networking?

Short and sweet

A thumb rule I learned early on is – even in a one-to-one, don’t exceed 60 seconds at a time in whatever you’re saying. Shorter sentences work best.

Research beforehand

Many events share the attendee list and almost everyone is findable on Google or Social. Looking people up can give you a huge leg up in a professional conversation. You also remember them better.

Read body language

There are times they want to talk to someone else but stay out of politeness. It’s ok to let go – there might not be a deal there, anyway.

Engage

The best conversationalists are listeners. Ask questions. Even if you don’t get to share your spiel, after the meeting is done, you’re the one they’ll remember.

Quality over Quantity

We all want to work the room but that’s not always possible. So your best option might be picking out a few people and talking to them. Again, research helps you decide exactly who.

Follow up and follow through

An email note, call or even a message on Facebook or LinkedIn is not only good manners, it’s also great business sense. If you promised some info, don’t forget to send it within the promised timeline.

A Million Contacts Online

All of these guidelines apply to Online networking too. Granted, we may be safe behind our screens, but the same etiquette can win you connections or repel them into avoiding you. These tips on smart e-networking can help you navigate the digital universe.

At the end of the day, being cued-in, plus simple commonsense and courtesy work best.

So the next time, you’re at a meeting, don’t just Network. Connect!

Do share your networking experiences- good or bad in the comments below.

Pooja Krishna is an Entrepreneur, Consultant and Mom. She has worked both in large corporates and managed startups over the last 20+ years. A co-founder of Maroon Oak, she’s also founded Win Thinks, a small business consulting company, and Trading Paces, which educates amateur and pro stock traders. She blogs and teaches workshops about Brand Strategy, Social Media & Future ready Career Solutions. She loves being a Classroom Mentor and teaching students across the U.S. about Job Skills and Entrepreneurship. Read her interview on Huffington Post.

A trivia buff and yoga & hula hoop enthusiast, Pooja loves spending time with her family playing board games and watching documentaries. 

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33 Comments
  1. Helpful. Under your “Don’t Persist. Don’t Prolong “I would suggest that sometimes it is necessary to disengage by saying “Excuse me, but I do want to speak with other people.” If that does not work, just walk away. This is not what any of us want to do, but on the other hand you cannot sacrifice your opportunities at an event you probably paid to go to because someone keeps on speaking.

  2. Yeu Doi 1 year ago

    Thank you! These tips will help us refine our networking skills!

  3. Rosey 1 year ago

    These are great tips! I have yet been to a networking opportunity meeting but I will take your tips into consideration when pitching my brand/ blog!

  4. Crystal 1 year ago

    Networking is something I’m always working on. I’m incredibly shy so it’s difficult for me. This is a great article for those that might need a push in the right direction.

  5. Oyinkan 1 year ago

    I think it’s very important to give your card to someone who you’ve already had a convo with. I totally agree with not dropping your card just anywhere.

  6. Elizabeth O. 1 year ago

    Networking can be tricky sometimes. It’s really important that you have a plan and that you know what you’re doing. It’s not easy but you can definitely educate yourself about how to properly build networks for your business.

  7. Karen Jolly 1 year ago

    Great list of tips to include in my considerations. I am always careful in all the things I do in networking. I believe that the output must always be quality over quantity.

  8. Chloe 1 year ago

    I love this, I find that people forget that it is REAL people are the ones that make the ultimate decisions when it comes to networking/marketing/business.

  9. RaNesha 1 year ago

    These are all very helpful to tips we all often forget. This post was a great reminder to stay focused when networking.

  10. Erin 1 year ago

    Awesome tips! I got a kick out of the card shark lady. Seriously, who does that?!

  11. Molly 1 year ago

    You are so right about all of these! I love reading body language and quality over quantity is definitely the most important thing!

    xo,
    Molly
    allaboutgoodvibes.com

  12. Sondra Barker 1 year ago

    I love these tips. I always keep things short and sweet. I’ve always dislike super long content.

  13. Nay 1 year ago

    Great tips. It really does make sense to keep things short and sweet and strictly about the business.

  14. Jessica 1 year ago

    These are great tips! I think that research is so important. It often weeds out those just searching for free things and piggybacking exposure. Knowing that you have mutual interests and goals is going to help both people/companies out rather than just one, which is really what it’s all about in the end right?

  15. Emme Chatterton 1 year ago

    I was cringing reading these stories… they are common types of people you find in all business unfortunately, and life! Learning good manners, pleasant social skills, and showing real human empathy is 99% of networking… great article.

  16. These ideas are really helpful for anyone who is in business including blogging.Networking is really important to be successful in any business.And it matters how you connect with others.

  17. Amber 1 year ago

    What great tips! I always try to make things short and sweet. I know I prefer to read things that way too.

  18. Jessi 1 year ago

    This is a wonderful list! I have always believed that a pitch should be short, sweet and to the point. People don’t have the time for a 14 minute explanation and your personal biography.

  19. Shahntay 1 year ago

    Yes, I agree. Keeping the details short, and pitching in 2 minutes does the trick. I learned really early that if you don’t get it out quickly you can loose the audience.

  20. Nellwyn 1 year ago

    Keeping it short and sweet is one of my favourite networking tips. Perfecting your elevator pitch is absolutely essential!

  21. Muna Kenny 1 year ago

    I’m surprised how people attend networking meet ups with such attitude. I’ve learned a lot from your post!

  22. megan 1 year ago

    i loved these tips – and things to avoid. my biggest problem is selling myself and not being nervous. i always feel like i stumble over my words, and then afterwards I rehash the situation, and how i could have done it better.

  23. These are wonderful tips! A lot of people make the mistake of faking it during networking. But I’m pretty sure “engaging genuinely” is the most important one ever 🙂

  24. I have been in sales for more than 30 years. These are to do’s whether you are just starting or still in the game. Very helpful post.

  25. Caroline 1 year ago

    Love these tips! I am going to a networking event next week and I will definitely be using these.

  26. Polly 1 year ago

    Following up and following through are so important! I take people more seriously when they can actually stick to their word!

  27. Madpawn 1 year ago

    Nice insights! The short resume at the end helps alot and so do your tips, keep it up!

  28. These are all great tips for proper networking. I’m saving this to look through again at length, when I can take notes and add certain bits and pieces to my business habit-building – although most of it really boils down to common sense, a lot of these things are so basic that people just don’t think of them consciously, so having them pointed out in this way is perfect!

  29. stacey 1 year ago

    Great ideas. I love the recap at the end. keep it short, works best, leave some unanswered questions for followup.

  30. Rose 1 year ago

    These are great tips! Networking is such a vital component in life and business. First impressions matter and lasting. I think one thing you hit on that is critical is being able to perceive a person’s body language. You can tell you’ve lost someone’s attention by their body language and that it’s time to move on. Otherwise that connection is lost. Thanks for sharing these insightful tips!

  31. Sincerely Ophelia 1 year ago

    That’s pretty awesome. It’s very useful for my next event. 🙂 thanks!

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉
    SINCERELY OPHELIA | 5 reasons why you should get small bag for your next purchase

  32. Biljana N. 1 year ago

    I had honestly never thought about any of this!!!!! This will absolutely help me in the future!

  33. Katell 1 year ago

    This is a gem – what great ideas. Thanks for sharing!

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