5 networking mistakes that make you look dumb

Smart entrepreneurs listen more than talk.I wish I could tell you that my knowledge of these mistakes comes from observation rather than personal experience. However, that would be such a huge lie that my tongue would probably fall right out of my head if I tried. The only good news is that I learned years ago how to stop shooting myself in the foot at networking events.

Having gotten the true confessions out of the way, here are five of the quickest, easiest ways to look dumb when you’re trying to make mutually profitable business connections.

Effective networking produces great outcomes.

  1. Reel off a laundry list of services you provide. (Bonus dumb points: Go into excruciating detail about how you provide them.) The bottom line is that no one cares about what you offer. They only care whether your problem-solving skills.

  2. Talk. And talk. And talk some more. Yes, you’re fascinating, but how will you ever know how (or if) you can help someone if you don’t ask them what their challenges are, then shut up and listen to the answers?

  3. Try to make the sale at the networking event. Conversations at networking events are kind of like first dates. The ultimate goal is to decide whether you want to explore a deeper connection. If so, then you set up a second date which can help both of you determine whether you’re the right problem solver for her and she’s the right client for you.

  4. Try to be all things to all people. Some networkers do the conversational equivalent of throwing a bunch of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. The results are not pretty. Know what you do well, own that expertise, and don’t pretend to be good at something you’re not just for the sake of a quick sale – that course of action will come back to haunt you.

  5. Fail to follow up. My personal favorite. There’s no telling how many tens of thousands of dollars are left on the table each year because business owners don’t follow up with their prospects. Consistent, efficient, effective follow-up is pretty rare in American business today; developing this one habit will put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.


So…How do you score on the Networking Dumb-O-Meter? Have you fallen into any of these traps, or have you instead found ways to authentically connect with your ideal prospects? Please share some of your favorite success strategies (most of us can make the dumb mistakes all by ourselves, so we don’t need any help there).

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