Feb 5, 2024 | Zenagos Expert Tips

Top 5 Mistakes People Make When Networking

Q. Dear Zenagos,
People say I can get a lot of business for my company by networking, but when I go to networking events, I never get customers. What am I doing wrong?
–Major

Networking is a powerful tool for gaining new information, learning about new opportunities, and selling new business. However, these benefits are not automatic. As with any skill, you will improve at networking with practice, and you will make faster progress if you avoid the following pitfalls.

5. Having No “Ask”
Before you engage in conversation about your business, make sure you know your “ask.” If someone wants to help you, what can that person do? Obviously, it would be ideal if the person wanted to buy your product or service, but the person you are talking to may not be an appropriate customer. Instead, ask for a connection to the kind of person who would be an ideal customer. For example, if you sell bathroom remodeling, you could say, “I’m looking for people who would really like to upgrade their homes. If you hear someone say something like, ‘Our bathrooms really need a facelift,’ send them my way.” If the person you are talking to is interested in your service, that provides an opportunity to say so, and if not, it gives the contact something to think about that could be useful later.

4. Not Talking about Your Business
Entrepreneurs have a tendency to think that their idea is unique and valuable, so they often don’t want to tell anyone about it, fo fear that someone will steal their idea. However, if you never talk about what you are doing, you’re going to have a hard time finding customers! There are some ideas that are truly new inventions and need to be protected, but most new business owners will be far better served by talking about their business than by not talking about it.

3. Only Talking with Your Friends
While it’s natural to seek comfort in conversations with people you already know, sticking to familiar faces at networking events will limit your growth. Networking is about expanding your reach and increasing connections. Steel yourself to some awkwardness, and approach some strangers to strike up conversations. Stepping out of your comfort zone can open unexpected opportunities.

2. Leaving Without a Way to Follow Up
The time you invest in networking conversations will be wasted if you don’t have a way to follow up with your new connection. Learn how to get someone’s contact information using a QR code in the LinkedIn app. Or, get an electronic business card. This will make it easier to exchange contact information. Be sure to follow up promptly after the event. Send a personal message expressing gratitude for the conversation and suggesting ways to help one another. Networking doesn’t end when the event is over.

1. Being Transactional Instead of Relational
The most important reason that entrepreneurs struggle converting networking conversations into actual sales is that they treat the people they meet as “prospects,” instead of as interesting people. It is human nature to prefer to do business with people you Know, Like, and Trust (KLT), so they aren’t comfortable having a business conversation before they have some get-to-know-you time. Try to forget that you are selling something, and focus on the relationship. If you show genuine interest in who each person is and what they do, you will learn about opportunities that you can address in later conversations.

It can be difficult to be patient when you are struggling to find revenue for your business, but rushing your individual conversations won’t help. Keep talking to people; have as many conversations as you can. As they come to know you, they will eventually ask how they can help, and then your hard work will begin to pay off.

Related Blog Articles
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: People Buy from People they Like
Zenagos Expert Networking Tip: Opening a Conversation
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: Be a Good Listener
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: How to State the Price
Zenagos Expert Sales Tip: How to Ask for the Sale
Zenagos Expert Networking Tip: Use an eBusiness Card

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