Whether you love them or hate them, networking events are a crucial component of being an entrepreneur. Mingling with other experts in your industry not only helps you generate leads, but it could lead to potential partnerships, give you new business ideas, and maybe even boost your reputation.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that they're not all about you. Yes, networking events are a way to promote yourself and your brand, but if that's all you're doing, chances are you're making a bad impression.
Seven entrepreneurs share how professionals are making a bad impression at networking events and how they can change their ways.
1. You talk too much.
So often at networking events, people want to talk about themselves and what they do, but they forget to listen. Listening is the most important part!
Think of networking as speed dating for your professional life: You're essentially looking for professional matches and creating relationships. When you listen as much as you speak, you'll create more meaningful connections.
2. You chase leads, not friends.
Networking is all about getting people to like you and getting them to be interested in what you're doing. The best way to do this is to practice active listening and aim to make friends, not leads.
3. You advertise your business.
Rather than making new friends and connections, many business owners focus on advertising their business. They talk about their own company without hearing what other people have to say.
This leaves a bad impression because potential connections will think you're selfish and in turn try to avoid you.
4. You're self-absorbed.
Two things that make a horrible impression are making the conversation all about you and name dropping. To avoid this, focus the conversation around the other person and see how you can provide value to them.
5. You don't ask how you can help others.
Go to a networking event with questions prepared for the people you plan to meet. Ask how you can help them, and they will often want to return the favor.
People love talking about what they do. Make a memorable impression by truly listening.
6. You bounce around.
I see a lot of people "bouncing around" and just dropping business cards to every person at the event. It's like their goal is to see how many business cards they can hand out.
I've learned that a better strategy is to have a few great conversations with select people rather than trying to have vague conversations with as many people as you can.
7. You're looking to take rather than to give.
A major part of networking revolves around giving specific value to a connection, whether it's you or someone you know who can give it to them. Many times, I come across people who are looking to see how they can benefit from a relationship without considering the other person's needs.
The primary focus shouldn't be centered around how they can help you but instead how you can help them.