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The Seven Deadly Sins of Networking

Aug 10, 2008
Regular subscribers to my e-zine The Marketing Edge will recall my previous articles about how to network (Networking That Produces Results (See http://www.zee2a.com/MarketingEdge/ eZine080101.html#TOC2, also published on iSnare.com) and where to network (Are You Fishing in the Wrong Pond? (See http://www.zee2a.com/MarketingEdge/ eZine080415.html#TOC2, also published on iSnare.com). This third article in the series uncovers the mistakes to be avoided if our networking is to produce outstanding results.

Now that you have the how and where all nicely in hand, the last thing you want to do is allow your investment in time, money, and credibility go down the drain by committing any of the following Seven Deadly Sins of networking:

Sin #7: Data dumping

This involves 'dumping' the data from all the business cards you've collected onto your newsletter distribution list or other marketing list without that person's consent. I don't know about you, but I get really annoyed when I suddenly find myself receiving a host of different e-zines that I didn't ask for, after attending a networking lunch. Just don't do it!

Sin #6: Trying to sell before building a relationship

Networking is first and foremost about building relationships. We talk a lot about the 'know, like, and trust' factor with good reason, so offering your sales-pitch prematurely is pushy and off-putting. Focus on getting to know people first. Play 'Marketing Relay' (Principle 1 in The Seven Principles of Professional Services Marketing--see http://www.zee2a.com/7principles.html) by going around the 'track' systematically. Remember that if you launch into a selling conversation too soon, you drop the 'baton' and have to start again.

Sin #5: Being the centre of attention

We all enjoy talking about ourselves, especially when we have a captive audience, but I can't stress this point enough: You have to share the attention. No one likes a blabber-mouth who never shuts up or lets others have a word in. Allow others enough opportunity to talk, and really really listen to them. As Toby Keith states so well: Sometimes I wanna talk about ME! (you've got to watch this vid! See http://youtube.com/watch?v=cYrlzEUuBIM)

Sin #4: Spreading yourself too thinly

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: focus on Quality vs Quantity. To make a genuine success of your networking efforts and get tangible value out of it, you simply have to be an active, visible member of the group/s to which you belong. If you are attending too many different events too frequently, you will have no option but to compensate in other areas. Either by working longer hours than necessary to catch up on your work backlogs, or by committing the #1 Sin ...

Sin #3: Being unprepared

This is another major contributor to committing the #1 Networking Sin. Being prepared has many guises: You must ensure that you have sufficient supplies of business cards, a pen, notebook and your diary (or PDA). How embarrassing if the opportunity to set up an appointment arises and you don't have your diary, or you have run out of business cards before a conversation with the CEO of one of your major targets.

You must also be prepared with something interesting to talk about. Do you know how to make small talk? Have you read something in the business news or an industry journal that you could use?

Another area where being unprepared, or badly prepared, can wreck your credibility and opportunities for networking success - is not having a decent Verbal Signature. You may call it an elevator pitch, a cocktail speech, or simply your 60 second intro. If your message is garbled, too fussy, overly creative, boring, or simply unclear then you will have to work so much harder to achieve your goals. We make an impression within that first sixty seconds, so ensure that it's a good one.

An exercise that many of our subscribers, and all of our clients have gained tremendous value from is working through the audio programme Transform Your Networking With a Verbal Signature(TM) (see http://www.zee2a.com/freestuff.html) and its accompanying workbook. If you haven't done so yet I suggest you make it your number one priority after reading this article. Download it from the private subscriber's area on our website. If you aren't a subscriber yet, then go to our homepage (http://www.zee2a.com/), input your details into the signup box, and you will receive a link to that download page.

Sin #2: Poor information gathering

This doesn't mean that you didn't collect enough business cards - it means you failed in gathering relevant information to support what is printed on those cards. Who is the person behind the name? What do they do (that the card doesn't tell you)? How will you remember what they look like when you bump into them again? What information have you obtained to help you in building a relationship with them? What did you talk about? This is one place where your pen and notebook become more than unused props at the event. In fact never mind the notebook even - scribble some info right on the back of the business card. As an example, if I just met David at an event, the notes on the back of his card might be something along these lines: 'Bald. Handsome ;) South African. Sat next to me at lunch. Planning huge business expansion.' - get the idea?

If your information gathering is deficient you have also undoubtedly committed other 'sins' too and will almost certainly go on to commit THE NUMBER ONE DEADLY SIN of networking:

Sin #1: No Follow Up!

There are a number of ways to follow up with a networking contact (which I'll address in a future article and in great detail at our seminar next month) but a simple idea is to send an email or a postcard with a 'nice to meet you' type message. Or pick up the phone and say the same. These are such easy, well mannered, gestures that it's a real pity that less than 1% of networkers actually do this. But I assure you that those that do reap the rewards.

Vanessa Deakin and Zee2A Limited 2008.

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About the Author
Vanessa Deakin, Operations Director at Zee2A, works with Professional Service Executives frustrated and disappointed with their current growth rates, marketing efforts and business profitability. She helps them to skyrocket their results and break their own best records. To learn more or sign up for her e-zine, please visit www.zee2a.com.
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