Lothery & Associates

3 Biggest Networking Mistakes

You’ve decided you want to make a career move. Or maybe you’re looking for new business and are trying to scout for clients without sounding like a used car salesman. In both cases, networking is essential for getting what you want and need. The problem is most people commit some, if not all, of the three biggest networking mistakes.

Mistake One: Expecting to close the deal at “Hello.”

Think of networking as your first date. You don’t know enough about each other to commit to marriage right away, but you get a sense of whether you want there to be a second date. What that means is, too often, you skip past the pleasantries. You hear a person’s name, title and company and think THIS person can help ME! They can buy from me, or introduce me to the right person, etc. So without the appropriate “courtship” you go for the gusto! You open with “I have this great product or service that can help you with….” or “I’ve been trying to meet Mr. or Ms. X in your company. Do you think you can get me an introduction?”

If you don’t know it, here’s what your new listener is now thinking, “uh, seriously? We just met, and if you think I’m going to risk my trusted contacts for a stranger, you’re nuts.” Though what you’ll probably hear them say out loud is, “I can try. Why don’t you give me your card.” Oh, and your card, goes right in the trash when they get home.

Mistake Two: Lengthy Elevator Pitch.

Having a 30 second elevator pitch used to be helpful. But our attention spans have grown to short, so you don’t get 30. You don’t even get 20. 15 seconds or less, is all you get to make a first impression. And don’t go for the deal close. The nature of an elevator pitch is to begin a conversation and intrigue your listener to want to learn more. It’s designed to show how you provide a benefit to your customer…who may or may not be your listener. If you say what you do, and someone replies with a higher pitched “oh” and moves on to another subject, or starts talking about what they do, you’ve blown your opportunity to begin a professional relationship. The response to a great elevator pitch is always a follow up question. You’ve hooked them, and piqued their interest.

The Tip of the Week has more suggestions for your elevator pitch!

Mistake Three: All get and no give.

In all of our sessions we talk about the WIIFMs, or the “What’s In It For Me” factor. People operate with self-interest in mind almost all of the time. So while it is totally natural for you to want to ask for leads and introductions that will benefit you, doing so without offering something in return leaves nothing in it for your listener. So when you put the previous to steps together: look at the networking event as a first date and create an elevator pitch that grabs the interest of your listener, you then can have two or even three conversations before you make an ask. Help people get what they need first, and you’ll get what you need as well.

Going back to our dating analogy, have you ever been in a give-take relationship where you give and they take, without reciprocity? How long did that last? Giving all of the time without return can become exhausting or frustrating.  Eventually, the giver is ready to move on and find a more mutually beneficial relationship.  Ask good questions of your new contact. Find out what they may need. Can you help? If so, you’ve just created the first spark to a budding new relationship.

Remember more than 60% of jobs and contracts are gotten through networking. Make the most of your opportunity. Great communication makes the difference between where you are and where you want to be.


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Comment by Linda | June 11, 2013 | 10:03 am

Karlyn, really loving the tips that you offer, particularly for those of us transitioning between or to a new career or vocation. I find the tips very useful. Keep up the great work.

Comment by Roxanna | June 21, 2013 | 4:54 am

In the comiplcaetd world we live in, it’s good to find simple solutions.

The comments are closed.


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