by Peter Shankman
A guy walks into a bar with a bunch of business cards … That’s sounds like the start of a bad joke, and sadly for the guy, it probably is. He’ll commit at least five deadly networking sins by the time he leaves the bar an hour or so later, and he’ll be none the richer in contacts. Here are the worst offenders, as well as how you can avoid them.
1) Stop looking for people who can do things for you, and start looking for people for whom you can do things! This is probably the biggest mistake we make. We look at networking as something that can help us. While it can, no doubt, this is key: The best networkers look at networking as “how can I help you,” as opposed to “how can you help me.”
3) Networking events aren’t about talking. They’re about LISTENING. Hands down, the worst thing you can do at a networking event is to talk. I’m not saying go mute for the entire night, but here’s the thing: Most people at networking events talk about themselves until they’re forced to listen to someone else, and then, only listen to find a break in the conversation so they can start talking about themselves again. This obviously, is the wrong way to be. See, if you can listen, you can LEARN. You can gain insights that can help you, you can come up with connections and ideas that benefit not only the people to whom you’re listening, but yourself as well, by being thought of as “the connector.”
4) Don’t be a “business card ninja.”Essentially, you don’t want to be that guy who walks into a networking event, throws a hundred business cards at everyone in the room, and then bails. That card doesn’t represent who you are, it just tells me how to contact you. Only you represent who you are, and only you can tell me, through your words and actions, why you’re important. Once you’ve done that, I’ll gladly take a card from you, and will probably use it! If you just hand me one and I don’t know anything about you? Not so much.
In the end, remember this: Everything you do is potentially a networking event, from who you meet, to the person who’s in the next seat on the airplane. The key, without question, however, is listening.
About the author: An author, entrepreneur, speaker, and worldwide connector, Peter Shankman is recognized worldwide for radically new ways of thinking about Customer Service, Social Media, PR, marketing and advertising. He will be presenting the opening keynote address on Thursday, April 7 at the NARI Spring Business Meeting in Austin. His website is http://www.shankman.com.