Networking is a crucial skill to have regardless of your industry and the level of success you want to attain. Having relationships with quality people can instantly put you ahead of the curve and open doors to tremendous opportunities. However, not many people know the dos and don’ts of proper networking etiquette. There are many people out there who consistently have trouble forming new personal and business contacts. With that being said, here are ten reasons you suck at networking and how to fix it.
1. You shove your business card down the people’s throats.
I remember I was at a conference waiting to talk to the speaker, there were two people in front of me. I could tell the person in front completely overstayed his welcome and the speaker was annoyed. He then gave him his card. As he was walking away, the speaker was subconsciously ripping the business card into pieces while the second person came to speak to him.
If they don’t ask for your contact info, chances are, you’ve failed in getting that person interested. Please don’t put the last nail in the coffin by giving them the last thing they want. If they wanted to connect with you further in the first place, they would make it happen.
2. You only focus on what you can get from them.
This is probably the the most common thing people do subconsciously. To be honest, it’s natural because that’s pretty much the bottom-line of networking- to find some way to benefit yourself in the short or long-term. There is nothing wrong with that. However, if you come in only with the mindset of taking instead of giving, you’re going to have a much harder time drawing the person to you.
Have the mindset of thinking what you can offer the other person first. You’ll find yourself attracting people to you easier. After all, people are wired to love taking stuff.
3. You talk too damn much.
Nothing is worse than listening to something talk about themselves all day. Unless, someone personally came to listen to you speak, please be respectful of other people’s time and give them a chance to talk and ask you questions. Listening can be a powerful tool. As someone once told me, “ask a man to talk about himself, and he’ll go for hours.”
4. You don’t know when to quit.
Lets face it, if someone you want to connect with doesn’t seem like they want to talk to you, please just leave them alone. It’s better you leave now to increase your chances of them not remembering you so you have a second chance down the line than to make them forever remember how annoying you were.
5. You look at your phone while talking to them.
It’s just rude, don’t do it unless it’s to get their contact info.
6. You go in for the kill too early.
Lets put it this way- say you’re a guy hitting on a girl. Are you going to suggest that she should be your girlfriend five minutes into the conversation? I mean you totally could, but I can imagine what you’re success rate is going to be unless you’re Ryan Gosling. This is the same with networking you don’t immediately ask for what you really want from someone too early. The only exception is if they bring it up flat out, then you’re in business.
7. You do zero research beforehand.
If you want to impress someone, do some research of their interests and their business. With the internet and social media, it’s very easy to stalk someone and get all that info. It’s creepy, I know, but showing someone that you’ve done your research will not only make it easier to have a conversation, but show that you are serious about getting to know them.
8. You have one too many cocktails.
Having a couple drinks to relax and enjoy the festivities? Good. Pounding so many shots that you are incoherent and reek of alcohol? You won’t accomplish anything.
9. You bring your significant other to networking events.
Please for the love of god, unless they work with you, don’t bring your significant other to networking events. They will be a distraction and you will be stuck making sure that they are entertained. That is time taken out from your attention that should be spent making new contacts. Don’t be dumb.
10. You don’t make sure your phone is charged.
You don’t want to be the sucker that can’t get someone’s contact info because your phone ran out of batteries. Sure, they can take down your contact info, but if they are a big player, do you think they are going to remember to follow up with you first? Make sure your phone is charged and that you have a battery pack with you at all times.