Networking is essential to running a business. After all, a business can not operate in a vacuum. But networking isn't easy for a lot of us. So what are the no-no's when it comes to networking effectively?
As business owners, it's natural to want to talk about our products and services all day to anyone who would listen. We are constantly keeping an eye out for the next business opportunity, client or business partner.
But constantly talking about your business can be a huge disadvantage when networking. Here are some things to consider the next time you are meeting new people.
1. Stop asking people: "Can I pick your brain?"
Depending on how it is asked, it can even come across as salesy and downright needy. Instead, ask them in a way that gives them space to respond on their terms. For instance, ask if they would be open to grabbing coffee or a phone conversation.
Think about it in the literal sense. It sounds gross, it comes across icky. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. They are probably asked the same question week after week. It can get exhausting.
Re-framing the questions can make all the difference. Try "Can I schedule a 15-minute call to chat about XYZ?" Or "Can I buy you coffee to learn more about XYZ?"
2. Pitch people aimlessly
Pitching can be an essential part of developing a business. For entrepreneurs starting off, it's a good way to meet business partners too.
Assuming the potential client receives numerous emails each day, the email should stand out. Write an email that doesn't come across salesy or spammy. Be sure to serve first. Offer value rather than add to the noise.
3. Text/email new contacts excessively
When reaching out to new contacts, it's important to be upfront about your intentions. On many occasions, people have asked for help and framed it in a way that was misleading.
For instance, one business owner stated she would like to hire me but wanted to understand more about what I do. After weeks of "picking my brain", she ghosted me.
The thing is, if she had been upfront, I probably would not have felt as misled and would have offered my tips anyway. Not only would I not work with her if she reached out again, I would probably not refer her business to my community.
4. Promote without purpose
People need to get to know you first. If they like you and your product or service, they will determine if they trust you enough to give you their business.
In addition, not everyone is going to be a good fit. More importantly, we can't force anyone into buying our products or services even when it's the best thing for them to do.
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