Nine ways to waste time networking

There are many reasons for networking, especially if you're a small business. But if you're doing it wrong, you might as well not bother. I've been out on my own as a freelance writer on and off (more of the former than the latter) for nearly 30 years and it's only recently that I've explored the world of networking. I don't always get it right and here's some of the best ways to waste time networking. I know, because I've done most of them.

1. Forget your business cards. You do HAVE business cards, right? I don't care what they look like. I really don't care how much you paid a designer or a printer. If you've got that money to waste, good for you. I genuinely don't care if you use Vistaprint for the cheapest around. Just take them and give them out. Many will go in the bin, some will go into smart business card holders and never be looked at. But just one will get onto the desk of the right person at the right time and they'll call you to do business.

2. Remember business cards. And leaflets. And brochures. And free pens. Bombard people with rubbish and that's what they think you'll do. They anticipate email marketing (aka junk) once a week and they're probably right. Less sometimes is more.

3. Over share. That's what the yoof of today call too much information. I'm happy that you're getting over your broken heart or the death of your dog, but now is not the time. People you network with don't need to know the details of your operation. Nor do they need to know every detail of that fabulous, expensive holiday you're about to go on. They may be pleased for you, but if they're not, that business card will definitely be going in the bin.

4. Represent more than one business at a time. Look, we're all in a hurry. We're all short on attention and time and if your business isn't clear, we just won't spend time working you out. If you've got more than one business on the go, then decide which one works best with face to face networking. Concentrate on that one and leave the rest behind. Especially if one is the one your dad runs and you're doing him a favour by mentioning it. You're actually not doing him a favour at all.

5. Talk too much. Your listeners will zone out and get bored. Give them a chance to ask you questions or talk about their own business.

6. Talk too little. Give me SOMETHING to work with. Please.

7. Expect to make a sale. You might be lucky and be inundated with people throwing money at you, but it's unlikely. Enjoy networking for what it is and get to know more people.

8. Focus on the food. It won't be that good, I promise you.

9. Ignore the contacts you make. Once you've left the networking session, don't just expect everyone to come running to you. An email a few days later won't do any harm. Maybe suggest meeting up for a coffee. But only if you genuinely think there's some business you can do together. Don't waste people's time.

Like many things, when you do it right, networking gives you a buzz. If you never get that buzz, maybe you're doing it wrong.

Posted via my iPad