two people exchanging business cards in an awkward way at a networking event

Networking Mistakes & How To Avoid Them

Business networking is an essential skill for any professional or business owner looking to connect with others and build their businesses. Although it is often overlooked as an “easy soft skill”, there are some common mistakes that can limit the success of your networking efforts.

In this blog, we’ll look at 6 common mistakes and provide some tips on how to avoid them. When you understand this, you’ll be able to create great networking strategies to use in the future.

1. Not coming prepared

There are a few things that you generally need to have before you come along to a networking group. Being prepared will help you to feel more relaxed and confident when you attend your first networking meeting or group. That being said – these things don’t have to be perfected!

  • Elevator pitch – this is a quick and easy way to introduce yourself professionally. If you’ve never made an elevator pitch before, learn how to here.
  • The right mind frame – know that it’s about who you meet, not how much business you get.
  • Handshake – having a strong handshake gives people confidence in you when you first meet them.
  • Business Cards – these are essential, so people can remember and contact you later.
    TIP: Don’t have business cards? You can connect with people on platforms like LinkedIn or you can take their cards and connect with them after.

Make sure you’re prepared for your networking events by having an open mind, getting some business cards, and practicing both your handshake and elevator pitch. If you need other preparation tips read our past blog on what to bring.

2. Coming with the wrong intentions

Networking is more about meeting people and building relationships with them than it is about getting new business (at least in the short term). When you build relationships, the business comes naturally because people love to help people that they like, know, and trust. Everyone you meet at a networking event has different experiences, knowledge bases, and expertise that can help you in many ways. If your intention is just to convert them into customers, you’re missing out on so much added value that they can provide.

We recommend taking some time to set your intentions for networking, whether that means you want to sit down and write some goals, or just take a few minutes to set them before you walk into the event. Doing this practice will allow you to have clearer ideas on which conversations to have, who you want to meet, and how to approach them.

3. Networking for short term outcomes

Networking is a long-term game. It’s not like boosting a Facebook post or publishing an article. Expecting people to become clients of yours after meeting them for the first time at a networking event is unrealistic. It takes time to cultivate trusting relationships that are mutually beneficial for both of you, your businesses, or your clients.

We recommend attending your networking event or group for a decent period of time. What that period of time is will depend on your circumstances. The longer you stay in the group, the better-quality relationships you’re building, and the higher the chance that you’ll receive new, high-quality clients or referrals.

4. Talking too much (or too little)

Creating a network is a two-way street that requires you to be as interested in other people as you are in selling your products/services. It’s a real balancing act, especially for your first few times. If you’re not careful, you could fall into a pattern of talking heaps, or just listening and not promoting your business.

To find a balance, keep in mind that you’re there to meet people and build relationships. You can’t do that by talking the whole time, or by not engaging and talking at all. Ask open ended questions, listen intently, show your expertise, and work on building those relationships.

5. Sticking with people you know

Another point for first time networkers: when you’re new to a networking group or other networking events, it can be easy to stick with people you know. But you’re there to network. Meeting and connecting with new people is the whole point!

If you’re at an event and you see people by themselves, try going up to them and introducing yourself to start a conversation. If you’re feeling nervous or lonely, they probably are too, and you’ll be surprised at how appreciative they are. If you’re with other people bring them into your group so you can all talk!

6. Not following up after the meeting

You’ll meet a lot of new people when you network, and it’s highly unlikely you will remember every person you met and what they do. This makes it hard to follow up with them if you want to connect with them further. Some ways to keep track of people include:

  • Exchange business cards – make sure that every time you give a card, you get a card so you can reach out to them after.
  • Write down their contact details – use a notes app or email it to yourself along with a note of when and where you met.
  • Connect on LinkedIn – LinkedIn has a QR code function so people can scan and connect easily. Make use of this and send your new connections a personalised note about when and where you met (this reminder is as much for them as it is for you). You can find more information on this function here: here

Following up with people is a great way to continue the relationships that you’ve started to build at the event. It creates a sense of trust and respect, just by doing that one simple act. Once you’ve got a way to contact them, you can connect via social media (like LinkedIn), email, or phone call. If you’re really interested in connecting with them further, you could even invite them out for a one-on-one meeting to get to know each other better and explore how you can help each other’s businesses.

By recognising and avoiding these six networking mistakes, you can make the most of your efforts to propel your career or business forward to success. Remember to be prepared with the right mindset, play the long game, be genuine, listen actively, and follow up with those you meet. When you implement these strategies, you’ll be surprised by the remarkable results your networking efforts will yield.

Want to give networking a try?

Come along to visit one of The Networkers® groups near you!

Want to give networking a try?

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