We've all been there. We attend a networking event in the hopes of making a positive connection with others but wind up meeting people we find it hard to like much less feel any connection to. Although networking is a useful tool if we are looking to grow our business, our skill base or our contact list, it can end up feeling like an endless parade of posers. Before we get too caught up into the cycle of blaming others for their lack of engagement, we should spend time exploring our networking habits and ensure that we are not a source of some of the issues we are experiencing!
The following are the top list of Networking No-No's... those behaviours to avoid if you want to be successful in making useful and positive connections.
Focusing only on what you want and need from an exchange. It is great to enter into networking situations with a specific goal or need, some skill or service that you need to access, but if you're only focused on yourself and not on what you have to give you will turn people off and have them turning away. Focusing only on your needs will not make you a positive connection for others, despite how important the contact may be for you. Always be clear about finding ways to make yourself valuable to others. Focusing on giving before getting will serve to establish you as someone worth keeping in their contact list, not deleting.
Being a Know-It-All. People can sometimes go over-board trying to appear 'useful' to others by highlighting knowledge they seemingly have about 'everything'. Using big words to sound impressive and intelligent, attempting to appear to be an expert at everything, simply to bump up your perceived profile, will turn more potential contacts off than on. Be clear about what areas your expertise truly lie in and highlight those, allowing your connections to shine in others. Using your familiarity with their field to boost their profile, rather than yours, will make them far more favourably disposed to you, and increases the likelihood of their reciprocating, supporting you in turn.
Pre-setting your station to... The 'You' Tube. If your conversation is skewed to your talking about You - continuously - then you will not only leave your audience turned off but looking for a way to turn you off as well! We all get that you have done interesting things in your life but you need to balance your sharing with some seeking behaviours. Ask others about their experiences, their lives, their businesses, their skills. Showing interest in others will make you appear more interesting. Connecting with others involves an exchange, hard to do if you are the only one talking.
Looking for the 'next' connection. When you are speaking with someone you need to be looking at them, not over their shoulder scouting out the 'next' person you want to nab and pass your card to. The art of networking is based in the formation of connections. To do that you need to be present to the moment and paying attention to the person in front of you. If you are more focused on the 'next' person to meet, than in truly meeting and connecting with the person you are conversing with, you might want to consider staying home... it will net you the same results.
Playing the one-up game. Don't get caught up in listening to someone's story with the intent to top it with one of your own. This is not an open exchange but rather a subtle competition designed to highlight who is 'best'. This says more about your insecurity than about your content and will do more to decrease your perceived value than increase it. I know that people get caught up in one-upsmanship games in an attempt to make themselves appear better, smarter, or more valuable than others but it leaves a bad taste in others' mouths. If you have to make yourself look good by making someone else look bad you will find yourself on the losing end.
Networking events can be a tremendous resource for your growing business and career, if used correctly. Avoiding these 5 Networking No-No's will help you to be more successful in getting the return you need from your networking efforts.