5 ways business owners are getting networking wrong

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5 ways business owners are getting networking wrong

Many view networking mainly as a means of finding new customers and suppliers and, while this is certainly one advantage, it brings countless other benefits, from helping generate fresh ideas to gaining new perspectives on business challenges.

Of course, you can only reap the rewards of networking if you know how to do it well, but many business owners trip up on the same common mistakes when dipping their toes in the networking pool.

Sterling Networks members are supported to ensure they are making the most of their membership and our Sterling Maximise program helps with practical advice on strategies to get it write.

We want to share with you are a few ways you could be approaching networking wrong and, crucially, how you can avoid making the same mistakes twice.

Being too pushy

When first setting out on an exciting new business venture you feel passionately about, it is all too easy to be forward or aggressive in your approach to pitching your ideas to others.

Whilst it is true that your enthusiasm is what will connect you with potential customers and suppliers, being too heavy handed is likely to have the opposite effect and drive them away.

It’s great to spread your genuine and unwavering business passion, but try to avoid doing so in a manner that seems self-righteous, greedy, or even desperate, and keep in mind at all times how you could be perceived by those around you.

Not practising your pitch

Some entrepreneurs you encounter might boast that they never plan a pitch and can excel by just saying whatever pops into their head. This could be the case for those who have been pitching for years, but it is generally a good idea to put some thought and planning into what you want to say if you’re new to the game.

You do not need to get too hung up on creating the perfect pitch, but you should prioritise making sure you speak in a way that gets your point across quickly and clearly.

You may want to start with a relevant joke or question to break the ice and grab your audience’s attention, or to touch upon a need or problem they may be facing and how you could provide the solution. Tell the story of how your product or service has made a difference to your life, or to the lives of your customers. These anecdotes can go a long way in ensuring both you and your pitch stay fresh in peoples’ minds.

Expecting too much straight away

It is important to get to the point when pitching to potential contacts, but it is just as crucial not to demand what you want from them straight away.

Networking requires patience and tact, so get to know the contact and think about what skills and services you can offer them without focusing too much on what they can do for you.

Ultimately, the goal is to expand your network by forging meaningful connections with people, but you must remember that networking is a two-way street and often you must give before you can get.

Talking when you should listen

Networking is not simply a chance to show off your skills and experience, but rather an opportunity to get to know other professionals and create meaningful and valuable relationships with them.

Instead of devoting the entire session to promoting yourself and your business, take some time to ask questions of those who you meet and give them the chance to speak about what interests them.

Striking a balanced and conversational tone is likely to lead to a more beneficial and meaningful exchange.

Failing to follow up

If you focus all your efforts on building up your network but do not make time to follow up with your newfound contacts, the chances are they will soon forget about you. Not only that, failing to send information or connect with someone after you promised can make you seem unreliable or insincere.

This is something we see often, in fact a recent LinkedIn poll concluded that 38% of professionals struggle to stay in contact with their network, even though they recognise the importance in doing so.

By being a member of Sterling, you are guaranteed to connect with your network every fortnight at our meetings

Even if you just send a brief catch-up email every now and then, it is so important to remember to follow up with your connections, not least because it shows them you value their ideas and experience.

It’s all too easy to fall victim to these common networking pitfalls, but by making small tweaks to your approach, you can ensure you deliver an impactful and memorable pitch to build mutually beneficial relationships and a network that becomes one of your business’ most valuable assets.

By being a member of Sterling, you are guaranteed to connect with your network every fortnight at our meetings

So, what are you doing right at your networking and what could you improve on?  Take this opportunity to re-evaluate your networking strategy and see what difference it can make.