10 Networking Mistakes (and how to correct them)

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by Tom Watson on October 25, 2010

One of the fastest ways to drum up business for your cleaning business is through networking (that’s why we spend so much time writing about it).

Networking gets you in front of more people who either need your service or know someone who does. In other words it creates sales opportunities.

However many people make a variety of mistakes during the networking process that prevents them from getting the most out of their efforts. Here are 10 of the biggest mistakes people make when networking. Knowing what they are should help you out tremendously at your next event.

Ten Networking Mistakes To Avoid

1. Going to all the wrong networking events. When we first started our cleaning business we attended as many local networking events as we could cram into our busy schedule. However we quickly realized that we ran into the same  group of “corporate regulars” at some of these events.

This corporate groups mission was not compatible with ours. This is because they were not our target market, and even of they were, very few of them interacted with the type of decision-maker we usually worked with (they had no clue who hired the cleaning service at their company).

So before long we realized that we were going to some of the wrong events (basically wasting out time). The moral of this mistake is you will get the most from your networking opportunities by showing up at events that your prospects attend. For us the solution to this problem was to focus on the smaller networking groups around town instead of the big ones dominated by giant companies.

2. Waiting for other people to introduce themselves to you. A sizable percentage of the population is hesitant to go up to a total stranger and strike up a conversation. That’s human nature at work, but to have success at the networking game you need to find a way to overcome that fear (just bite the bullet, and take the initiative to introduce yourself).

Another quirk of human nature is that if you break the ice first, you will be perceived as a person of authority and power (all it takes is a little confidence in yourself).

3. Talking too much. This is a common mistake I see all the time. You do not want to dominate the conversation (it’s not about you as much as it’s about them). If you want to make good impressions with others there is only one way to do so, listen much more than you speak.

Keep in mind networking is not really the time for hard selling (don’t go trying to get someone to sign up for your cleaning service on the spot). You are here to make connections that you can follow up on later.

4. Not engaging others (not asking questions). The fastest and most effective way to create a connection with others is to ask them questions. Inquire about their business and what they do. Ask them about any special challenges they face in their field. Ask them what they enjoy most about their work.

These types of questions encourage people to share information with you and help position yourself as someone who cares (and as someone they may be able to do business with down the road).

5. Getting distracted by others. Raise your hand if you have had a conversation with someone who constantly watched what was going on in the room instead of paying attention to what you were saying? Didn’t that leave you feeling somewhat ignored and unimportant (I know it gives me that feeling).

People who do that make a bad impression (maybe bad enough to not get a referral). Don’t make the same mistake. Give absolute attention to every person you meet and try to learn how you might be able to help them.

6. Staying focused on your own self-interest. If you make the effort to find out how you can help someone else get what they want, there is a good chance they will reciprocate and give youwhat you want. Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”.

7. Inability to articulate how you can help others. You need to distill what your company brings to the table in easy to understand language (make it easy for others to grasp what you are all about). How exactly would you do this?

Basically this means telling people that you operate a cleaning company that knows how to get things done right the first time, you wont make excuses if there’s a slip-up, you are fanatical about quality control and you will solve their cleaning woes if given the chance.

If you can leave them convinced you are that person, you are going to be one busy owner of a highly successful cleaning company. Oh and by the way, you will probably become quite wealthy in the process.

8. Not establishing any connections. To network effectively you need to connect with people. Though you will not connect with everyone you meet, you can improve your results by making use of a simple approach that is guaranteed to work wonders for you. I call this the “1,2,3 technique”. If you pull off this method you will be in great shape.

  1. Make eye contact
  2. Smile
  3. Ask questions

Pretty simple huh? It all starts with great eye contact, followed by a smile, then finish by just asking questions and showing interest in the other person. You will instantly be among the best networkers by using the 1,2,3 technique.

9. Performing the “meet, greet and leave” strategy. Virtually every networking event has at least one person running around like a jack rabbit saying “hi, here’s my card, nice to meet you”. Then they run off to the next person in their path.

This type of technique many mean you give your card out to a lot of folks, but you will never build a relationship with anyone that way. And if you follow this blog to any degree you would know, relationships rule! This means quality over quantity. You will get much better results by creating relationships instead of performing the meet, greet and leave.

10. Not following-up afterwards. What you do after the networking event is just as critical as what you did during the event. You need to follow-up with whoever you just met (this is part of the relationship building concept). Keep in mind that following up does not mean touching base three months later to see whats going on.

That type of approach adds no value to the relationship. You need get in touch while everything is still fresh. Here’s two follow-up strategies to consider.

# 1 – When you meet a prospect, make plans to get in touch with them shortly after the networking event took place. Contacting them within 2-5 days would be optimal. Arrange a meeting at a time that suits your prospect schedule

# 2 – When you meet someone at a networking event that is not a prospect, look for any opportunities to send some business their way. If you have someone that may need the services of the person you just met, either refer them asap to that person, or give the contact info to the person you just met. Being a “giver” is a sure fire way to not only make friend, but to get some referrals coming your way when they reciprocate the favor.

Networking can have a dramatic impact on your sales providing you take the time to do it correctly. Avoiding these ten networking mistakes will make your efforts much more fun and profitable.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Sandra May 17, 2016 at 10:07 pm

Very knowledgeable information

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