How to be an Amazing Networker
By Carrie Sharpe
I recently asked the Facebook community members at my communication and speaking business “He Says, She Says,” what networking behaviors drive them crazy. Networking is a hot topic, and this proved it!
It seems we’ve all experienced some pretty lousy networking tactics over the years, and it’s time to put a stop to it. Networking takes a lot of time and energy, so don’t waste yours on ineffective (and totally cringe-worthy!) tactics.
If you want to get good results from your networking efforts, stop these behaviors immediately:
Making it all about you.
If you spend the entire networking event talking about yourself and your needs, you’ve missed an opportunity to develop connections and relationships with others (which is the actual point of networking). If most of your sentences start with “I,” you might be making it all about you.
Veronica Staudt, the owner of an online boutique, shared an experience from a networking event she’d been looking forward to. The highlight of the event was that she would get to meet and hear one woman in particular speak.
“She never showed up to the event. In fact, the organizers then said, ‘You can still speak and network with her at an after-party,’ which was all the way across town,” Staudt explained.
She made the trek, but once she got to the after-party, the speaker networked with people for only 30 minutes before leaving.
Be aware of the expectations and needs of others. Life coach Kathryn Young said the worst thing to do is always to have your hand out for sales and leads, but to do nothing to help others: “I tell my group: Be of service first. Build a relationship. Networking is a long game. Play it well.”
Being On Your Phone
Speaker and author Sasha Gray said: “When you’re at a networking event, and some people never get up out of their seat or off of their phone, you wonder who is sending them to this event, and if they are just there for the food. When I go to an event specifically for networking, I want to meet as many people as I can, make connections with as many as possible, and be able to follow up with them that week. If I never see your face, I can’t do that.”
Talking Too Long
Networking should serve to increase your trust factor with others, but if you are rude, obnoxious or oblivious to social cues, you’ll blow it.
“It’s hard when you’re trying to network at an event and the person you’re speaking with is missing the social cues that you’d like to wrap up the conversation. At that point, you must become much more obvious (and potentially a bit awkward) so that you can have other conversations,” said author Suzanne Brown.
Susan Whitehead, a lifestyle coach and author, said: “I used to help facilitate the weekly networking group for our local chamber of commerce. The most frustrating thing we ran into was a complete lack of respect for time limitations. Each person was allowed 30 seconds for an elevator pitch. I had a timer set to go off at 30 seconds, then another 10 seconds and then another 5 seconds. There were always a couple people who felt those rules never applied to them. Networking isn’t just about getting your name out there. It’s also about showing due respect to others, including honoring their time.”
‘Friending’ someone for a sale
Sunit Suchdev, a holistic life coach, shared this example of getting a private message on Instagram after following someone new:
“They instantly [sent] me a robotic automated message thanking me for the follow and asking if I’d like to buy their product. It’s clear that they haven’t done any research on who I am or what I do,” Suchdev said.
Virtual assistant Lori Evans added: “Two days ago I was invited to a group for curvy singles. I’m neither single nor particularly curvy. I declined the invite. Today I was invited again. So I had no choice but to unfriend the person who invited me. I’d also never spoken to this person before.”
Jen Snyder, a Christian-driven life coach, gave perhaps the most poignant summary of a hard-sell gone wrong: “Hi! I haven’t talked to you since first grade, but I see you’re fat now. Would you like to try my MLM product?”
Networking is a vital business-building skill that we all need to master. Knowing which behaviors to avoid is essential to success.
By Carrie Sharpe
Carrie Sharpe is a communication consultant, speaker and the co-owner of He says, She says. She also co-hosts the Speaking with Ryan & Carrie Sharpe podcast and develops courses in communication and public speaking skills. Carrie is a Huffington Post contributor and has been quoted in a variety of publications, including Forbes, Business Insider, and Bustle. She resides in Northern Michigan with her husband, Ryan, and their five children. She homeschools her children and works from home. Carrie and Ryan will be speaking at the GTWoman Luncheon on Wed., Oct. 16th on Networking. Visit https://www.grandtraversewoman.com/events/oct-16-2019-gtw-luncheon/ for more information on the luncheon and https://ryancarriesharpe.com for more on Carrie.
To see the full issue of Grand Traverse Woman please go to: https://www.grandtraversewoman.com/sept-oct-2019-issue/