YEC entrepreneurs sound off on what networking mistakes to avoid if you want to impress.
When you’re networking, you have one chance to make a really good first impression — and impress potential business prospects. We asked some experts to share their advice on how to network effectively by what networking mistakes you should avoid.
Question: What is the biggest networking mistake you have ever made?
VANESSA VAN EDWARDS
Science of People
Asking Instead of Offering
“I used to go to networking events all the time thinking, “I need. I need. I need.” And of course, I never made any connections. Now I go in with an offer mentality. Instead of focusing on what I need, I focus on what I can offer. I have better conversations, meet more interesting people and have made way more business deals.”
Not Understanding the Audience
“Going to networking event after networking event in our own industry, it can sometimes become too comfortable. Every time I attend a networking event that is in a slightly different field, I need to remember to reset and adjust to the audience and dynamic of that group. Getting too comfortable with old networks and not approaching each one fresh can lead to lots of foot-in-mouth situations.”
Greeting Someone With “Nice to See You Again!”
“Sometimes it’s hard in this modern age to know if you’ve actually met people or if you just know them from the Internet. I’ve made the terrible mistake of trying to buddy up to people at networking events by attempting politeness. Saying, “Nice to see you!” only to get, “We’ve never met before.” It’s good to do your homework before the event.”
Not Paying Attention
“I attend a ton of networking events and know a lot of professionals in my local market. My biggest mistake is one I repeat from time to time, but am working on it constantly. The most important thing you can do when networking and speaking with someone is give them your full attention and not be looking around for other attendees that you may know or are hoping to show. It’s rude and insincere.”
Referencing the Wrong Event
“I emailed an important contact I met and said “Nice to meet you at X,” but referenced the wrong event. Once it was sorted out we had a laugh over it, but it was a pretty embarrassing mistake.”
Fortune Cookie Advertising
Getting a VIP’s Name Wrong
“At one of the first networking events I ever attended, I saw a crowd around a confident looking man who I assumed was a well known CEO (who I knew was going to be at the event). When I had a chance, I approached the man, using the CEO’s name, only to find out that he was not even with that company! This made it obvious I was just trying to do some aggressive networking without having a clue.”
Not Remembering People
“The most important thing you can ever do in networking is remember people’s name and what they represent. It’s offensive if you forget their name or who they are. The most embarrassing moments I’ve ever been in was when somebody was saying “hi” to me enthusiastically and I didn’t remember them. The potential conversation lost momentum right away. Remember people’s name and one thing about them.”
Hoping — Rather Than Trying — to Meet Someone
“When meeting a high-value contact at an event where he’s headlining, “What a pleasant surprise!” is the worst icebreaker. If I had done my research, his presence would not have been surprising. In fact, his email was listed on his company website. So, upon learning that I was dying to meet him, he immediately asked “Well, why didn’t you reach out sooner?” This exposed my lack of due diligence.”
ROBERT DE LOS SANTOS
Sky High Party Rentals
Gossiping to the Wrong Crowd
“I went to a networking event where I didn’t know anyone and thought I’d break the ice by gossiping about a few inside details I had heard about the speaker. As it turned out, the people I told these things to were in close relation to the speaker. After a few cold stares and what I swore was someone pointing at me, I ran for the door.”
What’s your biggest networking mistake? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation on Facebook!