Networking can be a waste of time if you don’t have the right mindset.
It is true that not all events that you attend will be great. In most of them, you won’t meet amazing and valuable people. In fact, if you could find valuable people everywhere then probably they wouldn’t be so amazing.
People who do great work, deliver it on time, and are fun to work with, are rare. This is exactly why they are so valuable and everyone is looking for them.
Yes, going to networking events doesn’t mean that you will always find people like this. But what I can tell you for sure is that if you don’t build your network then your opportunity of finding great professionals, and human beings, is almost 0. As Gary Vaynerchuk says “1 is greater than 0”. Even if you have to go to 10 events, or maybe a 100, to find an amazing professional it will be worth it.
It will cost you more to not network and struggle to find a job for months if you get fired. You will be desperate and the anxiety and uncertainty will kill you slowly.
It will also cost you if you don’t take the time to get to know people before you decide to work with them, and then you are miserable for years because you can’t get along with the people you see very day.
Of course, networking will cost you time too. But if you have the right mindset it will be an investment, and with the right strategy and skills, it will produce your best ROI.
There are many great resources out there that can help you to become a better networker. Many books, such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, Never Eat Alone, and Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive. These are just a few that you should read it you want to become a great networker.
Maybe you “don’t have the time to read”, to me it sounds like an excuse but still, I want to help you. That is why I write these articles because I want to share with you everything I learn from reading all these books and applying that knowledge in the 3-4 events that I go every week.
Developing great networking skills has taken many hours, and more than 200 events. You might need to see improvements quick, which is why I want to share with you what NOT to do during networking events.
Being able to connect with people is a skill that takes time to build, but you can’t get better today by NOT doing the things that we will talk about today.
Forget about Business Cards, Focus on Human Connection
If the conversation starts with the exchange of business cards I know that it won’t go well.
The message sent, when it starts that way, is that the goal is an exchange. You are saying that you give more importance to the transaction than to the person behind that business card.
This is the worst thing you can do.
People will never forget how you made them feel!
By giving a business card at the beginning of the conversation you are making them feel like they don’t matter. This is exactly the opposite of what you want to do.The fact is that you don’t even need business cards to build a strong network.
I moved to Houston two years ago knowing only a couple of people. I had only 200 connections on LinkedIn and now I have almost 1,400. I’ve been invited to be a member of different non-profit boards and advisory boards. Everything done without business cards.
Remember that nobody cares about you, so why should you give them your business card? You should make them care first and then they will ask for your contact information.
Don’t say… Do!
Another big mistake that most people make is that, with good intentions, they offer too many things and then they forget about it.
They offer invitations to events. They offer the possibility of meeting for coffee. Most people overpromise and under deliver, which is exactly the opposite of what you should do.
Yes, you should be following up and looking for opportunities to add value to the life of anyone you meet. Still, don’t promise it. Just do it.
Following up, to maintain the relationship, can be a struggle for most people. It can be time-consuming and even uncomfortable if you don’t know what to do or talk about once you get to meet with them again.
This is why BizLatte has put together a great resource for you. It is a step-by-step guide that will help you navigate the follow up by mastering the art of the Informational Interview. Click here if you want to check the guide, it’s FREE.
Stay tuned because next week we will talk about some other things that you should NOT do in order to build a valuable network.
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