Thursday, January 21, 2010

Networking No-Nos

I went to a networking event a few months ago. As usual, as soon as the formal presentation ended, we all got down to the business of ‘networking’ – otherwise known as passing out business cards to as many people as possible. The next morning, I pulled out my cards and wrote a personal email to every person I had met the night before.

A few weeks later, I met one of the women I’d met for coffee. She told me of all the cards she had passed out and collected, I was the only one who reached out and contacted her. I can’t say I was surprised.

When we talk about networking, most of us are talking about it from a self-centered perspective. What can this person do for me? Who could this person introduce me to? It’s no wonder networking gets most people nowhere.

Networking is not a one-way street. It’s about building relationships. What does that mean in the real world? It means that you need to also be asking, “Who do I know that can use this person’s services?” “Is there any information or resources that I have that I could share with this person?” Networking is about giving as much as it is about receiving.

In the spirit of networking, here are some basic no-nos:

  • No Eye Contact: When you are talking to someone be present. Make eye contact with that person. Listen to them and engage in a real conversation. I’ve actually met people who have been vaguely talking to me while casing the room for someone ‘more important’ than me to talk to. Talk about rude!
  • No Conversation: When I talk to someone, yes, I want to talk about what I do and they want to talk about what they do, but at the same time, I don’t want to hear a canned sales pitch or a script that someone has memorized and is just regurgitating to me. Make the conversation more organic, make it flow.
  • No Follow-Up: Remember who you talked to and send them a quick email or voicemail to let them know you enjoyed talking to them. If you really hit it off with someone, ask them to meet you for lunch or coffee. A stack of business cards might look impressive but it means nothing if you haven’t done anything with them.
  • No Assistance: When I come across articles or people I think might be of use to someone in my network, I don’t hesitate to send the article with a little note or do a quick email introduction between people I think would need to know each other.

1 comment:

Unbreakable said...

These are great pointers.