While online networking has dominated in many ways over the past 10-plus years, in-person networking – conferences, conventions, workshops, trade shows, etc. – is still a great way to meet and mingle with peers, potential partners and mentors.
If you’re new to the networking scene and want to stay at the top of your game, avoid these five mistakes that will make others cringe.
1. Being overly aggressive.
If you walk into an event with the mannerisms of a used car salesman, you will immediately turn off everyone around you. Yes, you want to end up known at the end of the day, but not for being arrogant and annoying.
To avoid this image, ask questions about what other people do rather than making statements about your own business. Take the time to listen to the answers instead of waiting for your turn to talk.
With this approach, you will be perceived as interesting and worth talking to by others. And don’t worry, they’ll get around to asking about you soon enough.
2. Focusing only on the big cheeses.
Of course, there are people that everyone in the room wants to talk to – the speaker at an event, the investor with deep pockets, the extremely successful entrepreneur. But there are likely others worth talking with as well, so don’t follow the herd and rush to the big names in the room.
Instead, circulate and discover people who are interesting, have useful information and are fun. Eventually you will probably get a chance to talk with a big cheese or two, and you never know, that quiet guy in the corner may be a hidden gem.
3. Trying too hard to impress.
Do you feel like small potatoes in the crowd? Many people overcompensate by presenting themselves as more important than they really are.
It’s tempting to boost your resume and brag on potential future successes, but chances are people will find out the truth eventually, making you look like an untrustworthy and foolish person.
This may cost you the chance to gain mentors or other benefits. Bottom line: be yourself. You’ll gain more respect and make more real connections.
4. Staying quiet.
It can be overwhelming to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs, some of whom are perhaps farther along than you are. Don’t let that fact keep you from stepping up and talking to people.
If you’ve never attended an event like this before, start slowly. Walk up to someone who’s also standing alone, and make an innocuous comment such as, “quite a crowd here tonight,” or “is this your first time here?” It doesn’t matter what you say. The goal is to start a conversation.
Within a few seconds you’ll know whether the person you approached is interested in talking or not. If not, say some casual wrapup remark and move on. Chances are that there are others in the room who don’t know how to network, and who would appreciate your approach.
A word of caution though: while I mentioned not only going after the big names in the room, it’s also a big mistake to only stick with the wallflowers. You need to muster the courage to get in on other conversations, or you won’t maximise the benefits of networking.
5. Not being prepared.
So far, we haven’t discussed the actual purpose of networking, which is ultimately about helping your business grow. Eventually, someone will ask you what you do or what your business is about. This is your chance to shine. Practice your elevator pitch, have business cards at the ready and be prepared to answer any questions that might come up.
You can show your enthusiasm and go into more detail if the response from your conversation partner is positive. Be sure to reciprocate and ask about their business.
The best kind of networking is a true exchange by two or more people who can benefit from sharing information, ideas and resources.
As you engage in more networking activities, your comfort will build and the appropriate behaviour will become natural and easy. Then you can gain the best benefit of networking opportunities: the chance to talk to other people who are smart, interesting and excited about the companies they are creating.
Don’t Be a Networking Nerd. Watch the Video Here
Why I Never Meet Someone For Coffee
The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.
First off, I need to make clear that I am not against meeting people for coffee or even drinking coffee. My issue is that I’ve learned that the offer to go get coffee usually means that somebody wants something from me. Whether it is time, money or to help them make a connection, an offer to grab a drink almost always has some ulterior motive behind it.
You might think that I flat out don’t want to help others, but the real issue is the other opportunities that I have in front of me. I have a lot on my plate, so dedicating the time to a “quick” coffee meeting does not make much sense.
Say no to getting coffee
Hours spent in the office doing business are not the time to sit back, relax or socialise. I try to be as efficient, effective and statistically successful as possible during work hours (and beyond). The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.
I rarely take anyone up on the offer to “do lunch” during work hours. Just consider the amount of time that it takes to get to and from a coffee or lunch meeting, and how much business could be done in that same time.
Then, think about the inefficiencies of utilising that time for things such as small talk, even before you get to the critical business issue.
Have an objective in mind
I have the objective to try and keep every phone call to a maximum of five minutes. When it comes to in-person meetings, I prefer them to take place at my office or overlapping other meetings I have outside the office, which I call “holding court.”
Even then, I try to keep those meetings to 20 minutes long. This allows me to fit in as many meetings or calls as possible. So many people make the excuse that they are “doing business” and then leave the office to do unimportant things, or overlap their meetings around errands.
Make no mistake, I’m not advising against meeting people in person. I’m saying take control of the business opportunity and have them come to you, or meet them somewhere convenient when you are outside of the office.
No coffee, just grind
The majority of lunch and coffee meetings that take place are nothing but an inefficient use of time. I would suggest not only rejecting such meetings during work hours, but to also stop asking for coffee meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary.
How do you determine whether or not a meeting is necessary? Take a look at the reasons and impacts the meeting can have. If these outweigh the potential drawbacks of an in-person meeting, then it is acceptable to ask. Make sure that you focus on making efficiency a key principle when chasing your objectives.
Stay focused in on critical business issues and you will find that focus will provide you with everything you desire in business and life.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Great Places To Take Your Clients When Networking
Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.
Do you live in South Africa and work at a job that entails taking clients out while networking? Are you tired of doing the same activities over and over? Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.
Introduce Them to Casino Action and Fun
There’s no better way to make a splash with your clients than by taking them to one of the many casinos found in South Africa. Between the cities of Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Queenstown, Pretoria, and Sun City there are more than 15 casinos to check out. Casinos offer a light and fun atmosphere that is perfect for letting loose. At the same time, they aren’t too loud, which means you can go ahead and sneak in a little shop talk.
Besides the casinos, you can also take your clients to horse races and even bingo. If the casino action is a big hit with them, be sure to let them know there are a large amount of South African online casinos that offer all the same types of games, plus a whole lot more.
Enjoy a Sports Game
Professional sports events are another fabulous spot to take your clients. You get that laid back casual atmosphere that allows you to stray from the traditional business attire, it’s a chance to get out of the office, and you can introduce your client to your own home team.
South Africa is well-known around the world for its love of sports. Among the most popular are rugby, cricket, and soccer. If you want to take them to the most popular sport in the country, however, soccer is the clear winner. Loftus Versveld and Ellis Park are two stadiums that are known to draw in some very rowdy crowds. Just be sure to get your tickets well in advance so you don’t end up disappointing your client.
Share the Local Cuisine
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your client out for a meal, this particular option tends to be over-done. In order to make yours a memorable experience, skip the chain restaurants and typical locations and instead introduce your client to local and authentic cuisine. These are the places the tourists don’t tend to visit, but the locals know all about.
Plan an Adventure Tour
Before you go ahead and choose this option, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your client in advance. Not everyone is up to adventure activities, so you want to be sure you don’t put them in an uncomfortable position.
Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking
If you’ve got the green light, however, there are all kinds of activities you can take part in. Adventures can include a private helicopter tour, paragliding, zip-lining, a shark watching tour, a private surfing lesson, whale watching, kayaking, a sightseeing tour (by bus, car, or foot), bicycling, hiking, snorkelling, horseback riding on the beach, or even High Tea in Cape Town.
All of these ideas are unique and memorable so you know the visit will leave a lasting impression in your client’s mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box
When it comes to entertaining your clients while you spend time networking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Coming up with unique ideas is sure to leave that lasting impression in their mind, which is exactly what you are striving for.
The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking
There are some things that you should and should not do while networking – it’s important to know the difference.
In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ivan Misner goes over the 10 behaviours that you should not exhibit in a networking group.
Sharing your problems and grievances with fellow networkers and guests is not a good idea while meeting and socialising with others in the group. Winging presentations, being late and using your phone are other things to avoid, too.
Networking is key to the success of a company. In fact, a single referral source can bring a chain reaction of new business to your company. That’s why it’s vital to make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups.
Success in these groups will happen when the rest of the group members trust enough to open up their best referrals. That’s why it’s vital to avoid these behaviours and demonstrate professionalism.
To learn more, click play.
Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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