Networking can (and should) be an exciting and fun way to grow your business and your entrepreneurial self. Just as important — networking should feel comfortable and natural.
Unfortunately, while some people may be brilliant entrepreneurs that could talk to you ‘til your ears explode about globalization, projecting economic trends, increasing your ROI, and providing you with great opportunities — none of it matters if they have cringeworthy conversational habits. Knowledge falls on deaf ears if communication skills are lacking, so put your best face forward by avoiding these five common networking pitfalls.
Not respecting personal space is one common mistake people make while networking. You know that guy in the room that walks up to you and every time he does, you feel like he’s looking into your soul? Making eye contact is great but doing it from an appropriate distance, with a smile, and in a non confrontational way is the difference between having proper etiquette and looking like you’re about to square up in your suite and tie.
Controversial conversation topics are another huge mistake people make all the time. Your political views and religious beliefs don’t belong in a business-friendly conversation (or in any conversation that’s not with a close friend or family member for that matter). Stick to neutral/objective topics and avoid the disastrous occurrence of controversy.
Asking too many questions is another big no-no in networking conversation. Asking an appropriate amount of questions is a great way to show you’re interested in what the other person is saying. Asking too many questions and not offering any sort of relatable information about yourself is an easy way to turn a conversation into an interrogation. Don’t make the person you’re talking to feel like they’re on Judge Judy… Ask questions but also relate to the answers you receive and offer some insight of your own to the conversation.
Poor Handshaking Skills are a perfect way to kill a conversation before it even begins. On the other hand (pun intended), having a solid and reassuring handshake is a great technique in getting a person to feel connected with you. When shaking hands with someone, have a firm grip but don’t try to take an arm off. Instead, make eye contact while keeping in mind to not to be awkwardly close or overly intense. Smile. A smile can make a world of difference when meeting someone new.
“Polly want a cracker?” The 5th mistake to keep in mind while attending a networking event is to not overly repeat what the other person is saying. Sure, repeating back to a person what they said to you can show you were paying attention to what they saying, but paying attention to words is not the same as actively listening. Be an active listener and if you do repeat words that were said to you, include some related words of your own.
Not everyone can naturally light up every room they step foot in, but practice makes perfect. Avoid these bad habits and check out what our friends at HubSpot have to add and you’ll be well on your way to networking success. Get someone to know you, like you, and trust you and you will develop a successful relationship, business or otherwise.