How NOT to approach networking

We haven’t had a ‘Top 10’ list for a while, so here’s a negative Top 10 – what not to do at networking events:

  1. Try to sell something. Never. Ever.
  2. Just speak to people you know. This is a temptation and whilst it’s good to build relationships you do need to meet new customers and referrers as well. That’s the point of networking!
  3. Forget to bring business cards. Or pretend that you haven’t brought business cards. I was at a networking event recently and I was asked for a business card by someone I just met. I gave her my business card and asked for one in return. She rummaged in her handbag and apologised for not having one. She said she’d email me her details but she hasn’t. I really hope I know her ideal customer. And I just might. I could name the company she works for but I won’t. Suffice to say that they’re a well known digital marketing business. Sorry, that should read ‘clueless digital marketing business.’
  4. Fail to reciprocate when someone gives you a business card (see above, I’m not letting this go). For those of you that do this do your realise how bad it makes you and your business look? And don’t look me up and down to see if you think I’m of any use to you. I DO know your next customer.
  5. Ramble on about yourself, your business and your product. Just don’t, I’m not interested.
  6. Look bored, disinterested or like you just don’t want to be there. If that’s how you feel go home, or even better don’t turn up to the event in the first place.
  7. Go into a meaningless, lengthy lecture when someone asks about your business. Keep it short and sharp. Less is more!
  8. Arrive at the event without a specific objective. We see too many people meander around events and leave without achieving anything. Set yourself an objective – How many follow up 1:1s do you want to set up at this event?
  9. Be self obsessed. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Networking is all about learning about others. Indeed, networking in its truest form is ‘giving without expecting to receive.’
  10. Do all the things you know you shouldn’t do (i.e. 1 – 9 above plus many other we haven’t listed), then leave the event thinking ‘networking doesn’t work.’So there you have it, what not to do! We’d say the majority of people are ineffective in their networking and regularly make many of the above errors.Ask yourself:

Why are you networking? (Right answer – to make new business contacts; wrong answer – to sell more products and services)

What do you want to achieve from each specific event?

Do you really want to do this?

If you don’t want to be there don’t waste your time as well as that of everyone else.


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Brendan Walsh