Steps to Networking – Step 90: SURVEY SAYS — NETWORKING DON’T’S

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 19th, 2010

STEP 90: SURVEY SAYS — NETWORKING DON’T’S

“It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you!” Jill Lublin

In our research for this book, we asked a wide range of experienced networkers what they thought were the most important things to avoid when networking. The top, most frequently expressed responses are listed below. Please note that the list below does not place the responses we received the order that the respondents considered most important.

1. Don’t act desperate. People prefer to associate with successful people. If they feel you’re desperate they will avoid you like the plague. Most people will deal with desperate people when the have to, but when the job is done, they will run from them. So clearly communicate to your contacts that you’re interested, but don’t make them feel that if you don’t achieve your objective you will slit your wrists.

2. Don’t sell. Never enter into any networking situation with the intention of selling. Networking is not sales, its building relationships. If you try to sell, you may foreclose the possibility of forging an importance alliance. Be patient and don’t try to land a contract at the first opportunity. If you sell to early or to hard, you will scare your contacts away. Instead, concentrate on building the relationship.

3. Don’t monopolize. Respect the value and short supply of peoples’ time. When you attend networking events and or have networking opportunities, appreciate that your contacts and those you meet are also attending to meet people and build relationships. Learn to separate business and social occasions and act appropriately at each. A business networking event is primarily a time for business. Sure you can socialize lightly, but if you’re lonely or want to hang out with friends, attend social, not business, events.

4. Don’t ask too soon. Avoid asking for help until you’ve developed a relationship with your contact. Most people will be put off, feel exploited and label you as a user when you come on too quickly or strongly. Be patient. Set the stage by expressing a sincere interest in others and getting to know them. Then when the relationship has formed, it may be time to ask.

5. Don’t solicit competitors. Don’t ask for or expect help from those who are in direct competition with you. Be realistic and don’t ask others to do what you wouldn’t like to do for them. Some competitors will be friendly, even generous, but don’t push them. The help you request could cost them business, so why should they help you.

HARVEY MACKAY’S 10 BIGGEST NETWORING MISTAKES

1. Don’t assume the credentials are the power. Every outfit is different. No organizational chart can tell you who the real decision maker is. You need a network to find out where the power is.
2. Don’t confuse visibility with credibility. Don’t join any organization to advance your own interest. Your motives will be as painfully obvious as a deathbed conversion.
3. Don’t be a scnorrer. That’s Yiddish for people who constantly take a little bit more than they’re entitled to. Save your big favor requests for the big issues.
4. Don’t say no for the other guy. Don’t presume that someone within reach of your network would automatically say no.
5. Dance with the one that brung you. When someone in your network comes through, don’t be a stiff. Dinner, flowers, a box of candy, or even just a phone call is a must.
6. Don’t mistake the company’s network for your network. If you’re going to keep your job, your network has to be as good or better than your own company’s network.
7. Don’t be slow to answer the call. Don’t stall. Even if you never expect to have your effort repaid. Remember that your network will be as fast broadcasting your failures as it is in broadcasting your successes.
8. It probably isn’t just your network that’s aging; its you. Make a genuine effort to modernize your skills and knowledge. Catch the zeitgeist.
9. Don’t underestimate the value of the personal touch. Small businesses must know how to network with their customers and prospects by emphasizing a level of personal service and attention that the big businesses can’t.
10. If you don’t know, ask. Even if you do know, ask. To compete, draft a questionnaire and put it where your customers can pick it up.

6. Don’t show off or brag. In most cases, show offs and braggarts only impress themselves. Nobody likes braggarts and blowhards, except their mothers, and that isn’t always so. Usually, braggarts and blowhards are only in it for themselves, which is the antithesis of the philosophy of giving that underlies networking. People may tolerate boasters for a while, but not for long. Successful people usually have a choice of who to deal with and like most of us, steer clear of those we consider to be unpleasant, obnoxious or too self absorbed.

7. Don’t interrupt. It’s rude and turns everyone off. It tells people that you think that what you have to say is more important than what they are saying, which isn’t a smart way to build relationships. Be patient and wait your turn. Most people notice and appreciate forbearance and courtesy. It builds respect, which is a great way to launch relationships.

8. Don’t just talk about you. Besides being tedious, you won’t learn anything by talking only about yourself. Plus, it irritates people. Talking only about you will make others feel that you’ve got such a strong involvement in yourself that you have no room for a relationship with them. Talk about yourself only when another person asks you about yourself, but make it brief. Then bring the conversation back to them. Hold your tongue or you could end up talking to yourself.

9. Don’t play it by ear. Anticipate and be prepared. Try to determine beforehand the possibilities that could present themselves and be prepared. Think about the people you’re likely to meet, what they may say and the situations you could encounter. Have a killer sound bite ready to deliver along with follow up information that they might request. Bring plenty of business cards, brochures and writing materials.

10. Don’t misrepresent yourself. The purpose of networking is to build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. If you pretend to be what you’re not, sooner or later you will be caught and no one will associate with you. When you pretend to be what you’re not, eventually you won’t be able to deliver. If you can’t deliver what you promise, the relationships you build won’t be reciprocal and they certainly won’t be long lasting.

11. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. See above.

12. Don’t pry. Be clear about what information you need, but don’t ask questions about areas that seem confidential. Don’t force someone to tell you, “Mind your own business.” Begin by asking broad questions and the narrow the focus until the first sign of reluctance. When you sense hesitation or reluctance, immediately back off, let them off the hook. Don’t go where you’re not wanted or you will find yourself alone.

13. Don’t linger with losers and “hanger-ons.” Your time is valuable and if you let them, some people will take as much of it as you allow. They latch onto you, try to take whatever they can get that could help them and are hard to shake. Usually, they bring nothing to the table and want so much. Furthermore, they block the path for others to approach you. Some are so insistent and persistent that they force you to be harsh and blunt. They can make you feel guilty. Learn to recognize these leeches and cut them off before they completely drain you. Be polite, be courteous, but be firm or otherwise they simply won’t let go.

14. Don’t overextend. Select a few prime targets that you think you can realistically reach and put them on your A List. Don’t shoot for everyone and everything. If you arrange to have breakfast or lunch with everyone you meet your weight will explode and your business will implode. Understand that there are limits to who to court and what you can achieve. Be realistic, concentrate your utmost efforts of a few worthy targets and place the rest on your B and C Lists. Keep in touch with your B List contacts by phone or e-mail.

15. Don’t be discouraged. Most good things take time, patience and work. When you try to build relationships, you are attempting to become a part of someone’s life and many desirable people won’t let you right in. They want to know who you are, can you be trusted and do they want to spend time or be associated with you. Success usually takes trial and error and the errors can be difficult to take. Stick with it! Find network allies who can support you in these dire moments and hang in there until you succeed.

(Excerpted from NETWORKING MAGIC: Making Connections That Will Change Your Life By Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin With Mark Steisel)


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