Networking is an essential part of sales—but one wrong move can leave people rolling their eyes.
If you work in sales and marketing, you know the importance of relationships. Meeting people, helping one another out, and learning more about each other’s lives is often step one in terms of lead generation. But networking can go from helpful to shady pretty quickly. The practice has almost developed a negative reputation due to marketers going in with selfish intentions or a lack of care. Here are four networking mistakes that can hurt your reputation long term. Avoid them at all costs.
Going In Without a Goal
Oftentimes, marketers show up to networking events being unsure of what they’re hoping to achieve. Do you want to meet a specific person? Are you hoping to start three new business relationships? Looking to collect contact info for as many people as possible? Those are all different goals that should affect how you utilize the networking time. Showing up to networking events and awkwardly standing around is a no-no.
Having a “How Can You Help Me?” Mentality
The reason networking can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths is due to the how-can-you-help-me factor. When networking, try to keep what you can do for others front of mind. By having a serve first attitude, you’ll develop long-term relationships and see that karma come right back around. Going into conversations with a selfish attitude won’t get you very far. In each conversation, think of how you could assist the other person instead.
Just because a great deal of marketing is done online doesn’t mean that face-to-face networking no longer requires professionalism. You don’t need to look flawless or pretend that your business is killing it, but showing up with a negative attitude won’t do you any favors. From the basics of a firm handshake and appropriate dress to remembering that gossiping about other people in the room isn’t okay, maintaining a simple sense of professionalism (not perfectionism!) will go a long way.
Forgetting to Follow Through
Unless you want a reputation for begin a shallow small-talker, make sure you follow up on connections you make when networking. A short note after meeting or actually attempting to schedule that promised coffee date will work wonders. You want to maintain relationships, not just exchange business cards or Twitter handles and walk away. By touching base over e-mail a week or two later, you won’t seem overeager, but you’ll remind people who you are and make a lasting impression.