Avoiding the Top 3 Networking Blunders

Hiring marketing or content marketing talent?Networking is an important activity in any industry. The term has many definitions depending on who you talk to, but in a broad sense you can think of it as just getting to know people in your industry. It’s surprising how many employment, mentorship, sales and partnership opportunities come about just by tapping into who you know and who you’ve met through networking activities.

Unfortunately, we don’t always leverage those relationships to best advantage.

Brian Hilliard, in an article for Entrepreneur, discusses what he calls the “5 Most Common Networking Mistakes,” which allude to an important point about networking: it’s a social activity, albeit one with a professional objective. Several of the networking mistakes Hilliard discusses are the types of things a bad friend might do.

Lack of Follow-Up

This is such a common mistake. We get it; people are busy. But failing to follow up with a prospect is a big error. As Hilliard writes, “It’s an innocent blunder, but not following up is not only a mistake but also counterproductive. You’d be better off NOT networking in the first place than you are networking and not following up with the people you meet. (Yes, it’s that bad.)”

Not Responding Quickly to Referral Partners

A referral partner is someone with whom you exchange business needs from networking contacts. “Hey, Bill, I met so-and-so at an event last night. I told her about your business, and she’s very interested in hearing more about what you do.” These partners should be responded to right away. Not doing so is akin to ignoring a gift from someone.

Abusing the Relationship

There are many ways you can abuse a networking relationship: asking for favors and never offering anything in return; not being upfront with your motivations; mistreating referrals, etc. Trust is key in networking. And just as in any relationship, trust is easy to lose and very hard to regain.

 

Networking is a great tool for expanding your business and gaining new professional opportunities. But, because networking is an inherently social activity, it’s important to keep in mind certain social norms of behavior and avoid being a bad networking “friend.”

These “top three” can be a good starting point for ensuring that your networking relationships deliver value.

 

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