Networking: don't make these mistakes

Whether you are planning to dip your toe into the networking world for the first time or perhaps already a regular on the event circuit, it is vitally important that you make the best of the opportunities to maximise your return.

With that in mind, here is a rundown of the top five most common mistakes that people make when networking and some tips about how to use each situation to your advantage.

Not preparing

To make the most of an event it is important to do a bit of planning beforehand. Have a think about your goals and what you want to achieve from the event. Are you looking for new customers or collaboration partners or do you just want to build a support network for your business? What kind of return on investment are you looking for from your networking?

If the event involves presenting your business in some way, make sure that you have thought about what you want to say in a clear and concise way. It is important that you are able to get across your message in a manner that people can understand, think about the benefits that you offer rather than a list of features.

Also remember those business cards; nothing creates a bad impression like contact details scrawled on a scrap of paper.

Believing it's all about you

Networking is about getting to know and trust people over the long term so avoid launching into your sales pitch at the first opportunity. Fight that urge to talk about yourself, and instead focus more on finding out about others and their challenges.

Interrupting a conversation

This should be avoided at all costs. It can come across as very rude and is guaranteed to put people's backs up. If two people are clearly in deep conversation, never barge in un-invited. It is very important to be aware of body language when attending events, look for the signals.

Drinking too much

If you are feeling a bit nervous about an event it is all too easy to have that extra glass of wine to calm yourself. If you are keen to show yourself and your business in the best light possible then stick to the soft drinks.

Failure to follow up

Last of all, but potentially the biggest mistake you can make. You've been to a great event and met lots of useful contacts. If you don't bother to follow up with people you are likely to miss out on any new opportunities that may lead from it. Send an individual email following the event and connect through LinkedIn. Don't be tempted to use it as a sales opportunity or add them to your mailing list without permission. This could be the start of a long and fruitful business relationship, don't mess it up at this early stage.

FindNetworkingEvents.com is an online resource, listing over 3,000 upcoming business networking events, workshops, seminars and business shows across the UK.

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