What Networking Is and Isn’t

Many business people hear the word “networking event” and automatically think “sell.”  It’s understandable, because the first thought is that there’s going to be a room full of people who probably don’t know anything about you or your product, and as kind of a captive audience they seem ripe for the picking.  You think you’re going to be able to make whatever quota you’ve imposed upon yourself in one night.  Think again.

Networking isn’t about sales.  Networking isn’t about marketing.  Networking is about meeting people and giving them the chance to learn something about you as a person.  It also gives you the opportunity to learn more about them and their needs, and to show that you have an interest in them that might go beyond your just being a nice person.

There are some major mistakes that occur with new networkers that, luckily, you’ll always have the opportunity to recover from.  Here are three things to avoid when meeting new people:

1.  Don’t pull out your business cards too early. The moment you pull out your business card it basically tells the other person you really don’t want to talk to them anymore.  If you’re at a large networking event there will be stickers that you can put your name on, along with the name of your business, so you don’t have to use your card to let people know who you are.

2.  Try not to talk too much unless you’re being asked questions about yourself or what you do.
The more you talk, the less you learn about someone else.  However, some people might really be interested in what you have to say about a topic or about your business if it interests them.  It’s always good to allow the other person to control the direction of your encounter if you feel things are going positively.

3.  It’s not about the numbers. True, there are a few people who say you shouldn’t spend more than 5 minutes with a new person, so you can work the room better.  If you expect to have people remember who you are you need to spend more time them! People are more likely to introduce you to their friends after they’ve had a chance to get to know you.
Mitch Mitchell is a business consultant that helps businesses with employee issues, especially management, leadership and diversity.

Mitch can be found at http://www.ttmitchellconsulting.com