Business networking is an xcellent way to build your business and find partners, customers and referrals that can help to enhance your work and drive success. When you start going to business networking functions, you’ll realise quickly just how effective they can be for getting your name and brand out there.
However, there are some basic etiquette and best practice rules that you should follow, to not only make the most of the opportunity, and make sure that everyone else in the room looks to you as a potential partner. These are all best practices that we take seriously at our own events – it’s nothing onerous, but rather common-sense stuff.
Some simple mistakes to avoid in business networking include:
- Not Being Prepared: Preparation is key in business networking. Before attending a networking event, take the time to build a clear understanding of your business, your target audience, and your unique selling proposition. Rehearse that elevator pitch, too, because you’ll need to be able to describe what you do in a succinct manner.
- Using Jargon: While it’s important to be knowledgeable in your field, and you should have an understanding of all the jargon yourself, you need to remember that your prospective partners and customers are in different fields, and using too much industry-specific jargon can confuse people. Make sure you’re able to talk about your business and field at a layperson’s level.
- Lack of Engagement: Networking is not just about distributing business cards. It’s about engaging in meaningful conversations and building relationships. Show genuine interest in others, ask questions, and actively participate in discussions. Make sure that you’re having true to-and-fro conversations, too, and you’re not just talking about yourself and your business.
- Not Following Up: If you promise to do something during a networking event, such as sending information or making an introduction, make sure to follow through. Failing to do so can not only cause you to lose a potential client… but you could also end up damaging your relationship with the other people in your networking group.
- Being a Wallflower: Successful networking requires you to step out of your comfort zone and initiate conversations. Don’t wait for others to approach you. It’s fine if you use the first meeting to get a lay of the land, but after that to make the most of the opportunity you will want to be proactive, introduce yourself, and start conversations.
- Focusing on Quantity Over Quality: While it may be tempting to try and meet as many people as possible at a networking event, it’s more beneficial to focus on building a few quality relationships. These relationships can lead to more opportunities in the long run.
- Not Being Authentic: This is a sacred rule at Bx! Authenticity is key in networking. People can tell when you’re not being genuine, and it can turn them off. Be yourself, be honest, and people will respect and trust you more.
- Not Listening: Good networking involves active listening. Even if you’re not certain that the person that you’re networking with is the right fit for your business interests, you just never know who they’re going to talk to down the track. You may also find that simply by listening and learning more, an opportunity and angle that you hadn’t considered will pop up. Show interest in what others are saying, ask follow-up questions, and engage in the conversation.
- Being Too Salesy: While it’s important to promote your business, no one at a business networking event is looking for the used car salesman approach. Instead of hard selling, focus on building relationships and providing value in the information that you xchange. This will make others more likely to want to do business with you.
- Not Having a Follow-Up Plan: After a networking event, it’s important to have a plan for following up with the contacts you made. This could be sending an email, making a phone call, or scheduling a meeting. Remember that the networking event itself is really only the start, and a good follow-up can help solidify the relationship and open up opportunities for collaboration.
- Not Taking Notes: After meeting someone new, it’s helpful to jot down a few notes about the conversation. You will be amazed at just how much good information can be lost, even overnight, and in your followups, you will be so much more impressive if you don’t appear surprised at something that the other person told you previously.
- Not Being Consistent: Networking is not a one-time event. It requires a commitment to consistency in attending events and following up with contacts. The more consistent that you are, the stronger the relationships that you’ll build within your group, and this will help you stay on top of mind for opportunities.
- Not Giving Before Getting: We’ve alluded to this a few times above, but it really does need to be made clear: successful networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships. This means helping others before asking for help. By providing value to others, you increase the chances of them wanting to help you in return. Or, to put it more simply: be generous and you’ll be generously rewarded.
- Not Keeping Your Word: If you promise to do something, such as making an introduction, make sure to follow through. Keeping your word builds trust and strengthens your relationships.
- Not Thanking People: Finally, after someone has helped you, it’s important to thank them. This shows appreciation, reinforces the relationship, and is simply good manners. A quick thank you note can go a long way in maintaining strong business relationships.
As you can see, the “rules” of business networking are not so different to the simple best practice of person-to-person interaction. Go into these events with the right attitude and an open mind, and you’ll be amazed by how much the horizon opens up for you.
Since 2015, Bx® has helped thousands of businesses create meaningful, long-lasting referral partnerships to unlock an abundance of leads quickly. We do this by ensuring every meeting we run is professional yet fun, and it must follow our award-winning & proven formula, which does not include selling to each other! Our members also have access to world-leading business education resources and live & pre-recorded training programs worth more than $20,000. Start your journey to become the business owner you were born to be by downloading your FREE 4-Part Video Series, “How to Generate Income by Networking,” and then opting for a FREE Trial Membership to Bx® (Valued at $199), which includes two complimentary meeting tickets to xperience Business Networking Reimagined for yourself!