Despite all the information about effective networking, there are many errors small business owners and their staff continue to commit in their efforts to get face to face with potential clients. It seems that many business people are guilty of thinking of themselves first, and the people they can potentially serve, second. As the saying goes, “It’s not who you know, but who wants to know you,” that really counts. You have seen it and I have observed how eager people are to distribute their business card to whoever will sullenly take one and this does nothing more than irritate the very individuals with who they are trying to build a business relationship. When it comes to your company, this is no way to create an effective plan for marketing small business through networking.
While there are hundreds of sins people commit when networking, in this article, I have limited it to just three of the more common ones.
The first deadly sin of networking is constantly looking over the person’s shoulder with whom you are having a conversation. Regardless of the reason you are doing this, it silently communicates to the person with whom you are talking, that they are unimportant and you are scoping the room for someone more important and desirable. A way to avoid this error is to focus intently on the person with whom you are speaking and nothing else. When you feel it’s time to move about the room and mingle with others, simply excuse yourself.
The next deadly sin of networking is forgetting the name of the person you have just met. Not only does this make your conversation more difficult, it sets you up for embarrassment when someone you know comes over and joins you, expecting to be introduced to the person with whom you are speaking. One way to remedy this situation is to make it a point to remember the person’s name. If you miss it or forget it, excuse yourself and ask them to repeat it. Dale Carnegie was right when he said, “The sweetest most important sound in any language is to that person the sound of his or her own name.” When you remember and use the name of the person you have met in your conversation with them, you will go a long way in building an effective networking relationship.
The third deadly sin of networking is coming late and leaving early. This typically gives the impression of someone who does not know how to schedule their time. The individual that usually does this always seems to be in hurry with their conversation. He or she comes across as pushy and only interested in talking about him or herself and pushing one of their business cards in to your hand before rushing off to meet someone else. My recommendation here, is to schedule accordingly, and spend quality time at the networking event in which you are investing your reputation and time.
So, if you want excellent results for your company in the category of marketing small business through networking follow the guidelines discussed.
Tom Borg is a business expert who works with small and mid-size companies to improve customer acquisition and retainment. He can be reached at 734-404-5909, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.tomborgconsulting.com
This article first appeared in Entrepreneur Magazine