7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid by Todd Pillars

This is an updated post from 2009 which started me on a path of discovery that took my business from a 1-trick pony to the national stage in 2 short years!

Funny how it’s STILL all about relationships – and it ALWAYS will be.

Read on…

Today’s business is all about relationships. Social Media is here to stay; you have to be seen on Facebook, you must tweet and retweet on Twitter, your LinkedIn profile has to be top-notch, and now we have Google+, however the more we connect in the virtual world to more we have to tend our roots on Terra Firma. Routinely overlooked, the original social networking – face-to-face, is a crucial high-touch strategy to build critical local business relationships that are crucial to your success.

In my observations coaching business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals, and attending numerous networking events over the years, I have recognized consistent networking mistakes that can kill anyone’s chances of developing any new business contacts. Avoid these seven deadly mistakes and you should quickly build your referral business in any economic conditions.

Mistake #1 – No plan, no goals… no results

Without a networking plan, you waste valuable resources; time, energy and money. You should know, before you enter an event, what you want to accomplish. Practice Bob Burg’s 10 Feel-Good Questions and The One “Key” Question That Will Set You Apart From Everyone Else so you are prepared to chose three or four to engage others that you meet at the event. These questions will show your new contact that you truly care about them. Do set time limits on what you discuss – don’t go through all 10 – or you may appear nosy. Just as you would role-play and practice these questions, picture positive results in your mind even as you enter the room.

The BIGGEST edit: Mistake #2 – Bad (or worse, no) elevator pitch

The first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, may be the only chance you have with that person. An elevator pitch or 30-second commercial is meant to cause the prospect to say “tell me more”. Many networking novices try to cram as much company information as possible into their pitch. Keep it simple and you’ll strike more interest.

Mistake #2 – Ditch the (elevator) pitch

This is more of do than a don’t but it’s vitally important that you leave the commercial in the car. You see, elevator pitches gained popularity during the Internet Boom of the late 90′s – early 2000′s as a way to “pitch”, or spark the interest of, venture capital investors in the time it took for them to ride up on an elevator to the gilded top floor office. (Makes for a compelling visual reason to do it, doesn’t it?) Well, if the first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, are only about what you want you’ll probably get the door slammed in your face during what may be the only chance you have with that person. There is a time and place for a 30-second commercial – and it’s not during a networking event.

Try something like the anti-mercial; You know how (whatever pain your prospects may have)? Well, what I do is (how you solve that challenge for your clients). Simple, concise, and easy on the ears. The goal here is get your new contact to say “How do you do that?”. If they do the door is now open for a deeper conversation about your solution, preferably at a later time. Don’t be afraid to set an appointment then and there.

Mistake #3 – TMI or Too busy telling

As an old mentor said “If you’re too busy telling, you ain’t selling.” The primary goal of the networking event is to make a connection – start a conversation – not to make a sale. Ask questions (see #1 above) and don’t “throw up” all over the place, regardless of how wonderful your product or service is. If it really is that good it will keep until you can sit down one-to-one. If you make a friend you can present your solution later, however, if you get the deer in the headlight look then you’ve lost the chance.

Mistake #4 – Talking to “Knowns”

Probably the most common mistake. Networking events present an opportunity to meet new people in a relatively receptive environment. Generally new sales people and business owners are challenged by meeting new people, they tend to end up talking to “known” friends instead of seeking “unknowns”. Make it a point to limit polite conversation with current referral partners to less than a minute. Better yet, adopt this new do; become an unofficial greeter. Scan the room for the people that look lost and ask them if you can help them find someone and see what happens.

Mistake #5 – Poor etiquette

Understanding how or when to join a group of individuals talking with each other is very important. Probably the biggest networking faux pas is barging in on a conversation. An introduction from a well respected business person is always the surest way. Sans that, look for groups of three or more that are standing in semi-circle – never a closed circle – and approach them in an up-beat manner and making eye contact. Always shake hands firmly, speak confidently when you introduce yourself, and practice your table manners when seated for lunch or dinner. If you are polite, respectful, and ask engaging questions – and then intently listening to the answers – you’ll be one of the most remembered people from the event.

Mistake #6 – Not being present

Be interested instead of trying to be interesting. I’ve been guilty of this more than once myself. Most times networking attendees believe the goal, at best, is to get your message into the ears of as many people as possible. At worst, to hand out as many business cards as possible. In their haste to meet that next prospect, they are not present with their current contact. Instead of thinking of what witty or sage thing you’re going to say next, listen for the subtle meanings in the answers to question you just asked. The timing of your next question will always come from listening to the full answer and being engaged and you will look like a pro.

Mistake #7 – Lack of (correct) follow-up

Attending networking event after event without correctly following up with your new contacts is literally worthless. And follow up, just like networking, is not a one-time event. The point of following up is to stand out in the prospect’s memory forever. Again, it’s not a moment of selling but of reminding them that you’re interested in them and care about their success. If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition don’t resort to the ubiquitous email. Cement your place in your new found business contact by sending them a sincere handwritten “Nice to meet you” or “Thank you” greeting card telling them how much you appreciate them for taking the time to talk about their business. Then keep in regular personal touch with them by sending them cards on a consistent basis. Turn the most missed opportunity in networking into a way to differentiate you from your competition.

Conspicuously absent is the iconic Business Card. My opinion is that the only reason to have your Business Card is to have something to exchange for their Business Card. If your main purpose is to attend Networking Events with the intention of passing out cards and saying “Call me and I’ll give you a great deal” then you need more of an intervention than this blog post can provide.

Put others interests first, practice appreciation, and avoid these seven deadly business networking mistakes like the plague.

Peace and Love to Todd |Excellent Advice!

I recommend trying www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and start today cementing your business relationships today!

 

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Posted on November 26, 2012, in Appreciation, Building Relationships, Business Building, Gratitude, Social Media, Success and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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