by Sue Fish
I’ve built my business almost entirely through networking – and along the way, I’ll admit to having made a few mistakes. So, let me share with you my seven ways to get business networking really wrong – so you can avoid making the mistakes I did.
1. Not Practising Your Pitch
Work on a snappy pitch that describes what you do and what you offer, in 10 words or less. Then, add a personal relatable story about how what you do has made a difference for someone, and what you are looking for from your networking colleagues. Your aim is to grab their interest and help them understand who they can refer to you.
Get feedback beforehand on your content and delivery, and practice, practice, practice to ensure you don’t overrun the time you are given.
2. Not Being Interested in Them
Networking is not about selling. It’s about building relationships and finding out how you can support others.
When you approach other networkers, show genuine interest in them and what they do before even mentioning what you do. Ask about them, find out what they are up to, how you can help them…. And then, by remembering little details they’ve told you, and mentioning it the next time you’re in contact, or even sending them a Facebook or LinkedIn message on their birthday, you build rapport and connection. It takes time – but the payoff makes it worthwhile.
3. Sharing Your Woes
Your networking colleagues are just not interested in your problems and negativity. No one wants to hear that your business is struggling – and no one wants to buy from a struggling business.
However, do let them get to know you, share your vulnerability and lessons you’ve learned along the way, and ask for advice, as these will help you become relatable and build connections.
4. Underselling Yourself
Unfortunately, lots of people will try to get you to discount or give away your product/service for free. Counter this by researching the market rate, knowing your value and what added value you bring, and respecting yourself. Stick to your guns regarding price, and they will appreciate you. If they don’t, move on and find someone who does – don’t compromise on your worth.
5. Being Pushy
There’s a fine line between passion and pushiness. Listen to others, be polite, friendly, approachable, and do share your passion because people will buy into that. Avoid being evangelical and desperate as this definitely turn people off.
Remember, your product/service isn’t going to be for everyone, so know when to walk away.
6. Not Following Up
Connections are made at the network meeting, relationships are built outside of it. Get their permission to go on your mailing list, invite them into your Facebook group, connect with them on LinkedIn. These are all ways for them to remember you and for you to remain at the forefront of their mind when they are ready to buy your product/service or refer you. Remember, “the fortune’s in the follow-up.”
7. Giving Average Service
What differentiates you from everyone else? What’s your unique selling point (USP)? What makes you stand out? Alongside building relationships, you need to go above and beyond with your customer service and deliver real value. This will make you memorable.
In summary, remember: be authentic; relationships first, business second; and go above and beyond.
Sue Fish is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organization’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club, visit Toastmasters International. You can follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.