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Human Resources

Common mistakes to Avoid in Business Networking

Andy Wilson, Founder & CEO of Graphight (www.graphite.com), discusses the mistakes one can make in business networking. Avoid these mistakes to maintain the right relationships for your company.

  1. Overly working the room
  2. Failing to have a substantive conversation
  3. Coming off as overly aggressive
  4. Forgetting to follow-up with a contact

Everyone has come to realize that business networking is important to achieving success. And I think there are lots of people out there trying to network and there are a few mistakes that I see that make me cringe and I wanted to point these out so we can all please ourselves.

I think we’ve all been to an event whether you can see the guy like a mouse running from person to person, you know, covering every person. And I think working in a room that’s good to circulate, you don’t want to get stuck with one person, fleeting around and not having a substantive conversation with each one of those people is almost as bad as not doing anything. So I like to say, you want to cover the room, you don’t want to work the room.

Secondarily, that ties to my first point, is when you’re talking to somebody, the goal is have enough interaction so that a substantive conversation is taking place. And when I mean substantive, I mean giving you enough information for both party to decide whether it’s worth doing something else. So the fact that, you know, you play water polo and I don’t and we don’t know anything about anyone’s business objectives means that we didn’t have a substantive objective. The fact that you’re starting startup up and, you know, building technology that could be useful for me, we want to allow enough data to kind of get on the table so we could connect the dots.

The other one is what I call, jumping the gun. I barely meet the guy and he asks me for something, “Oh, can you make introductions to somebody.” Or, “I love to pitch you.”

And I’m like, “Well, I met you 90 seconds ago.” So I think the cognizant of who you’re talking to may be what you want to ask for and figure out where the relationship is relative to the give and take.

Fourth item would be what I call, dropping the ball. It’s if you made the investment to cover the room, have a substantive conversation, kind of build some rapport with somebody and you feel like there’s an opportunity with that person, you must follow up. And I think we spend too much time at the front and the frontal, getting people and contacts in there and maybe doing a little work about figuring out who’s important, but the follow through is critical.

Go out and figure out who is worth following and set a system and a set of reminders in place to make sure you’re moving those contacts into relationships systematically, because once there are relationships, then those people would be responsive to you and really make an investment in helping you be successful.

So, network is important, but be careful of these mistakes because literally, you can trip yourselves on the foot and that time would be wasted and maybe you’d be better off, you know, staying at home and watching NetFliX and kind of stabbing yourself on the foot by, you know, being a poor networker.