“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”

-Steve Jobs

Sure you can hustle on your own, but truly, when you combine forces with the right people, things can get pretty incredible.

The question is, “How do you connect with the right people?”

In this article, we’ll take a look some common mistakes people make when networking so you can not only avoid them but become an expert overnight.

Ineffectively Communicating About Yourself or Your Business

It sounds elementary, but I’ve been on the other end of this so I know it’s real. And pay close attention if you’re in the startup phase.

If you can’t clearly and succinctly communicate what you do, why, and how you do it, well, you’re dead in the water.

The fastest way for someone to dismiss you is to sound as though you’re making things up on the fly or you’re too scattered for them to follow. As such, it’s crucial to have something prepared that you can effectively communicate.

The suggestion? Get something written and rehearse it until it’s solid. And do this for both an elevator speech and in-depth review.

Trying to Be Interesting Instead of Genuinely Interested

John Gardner said to Jim Collins once, “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting. Why don’t you invest more time being interested?”

I’m sure you’ve experienced this before, someone working extra hard to seem interesting. And when you experienced this, what did you think?

When you’re networking with people, you want to become genuinely interested in them – what they do, why, and how they do it. Doing so will enhance your chances of making a great connection.

Not Making It a Habit

Many times, people think of networking when they’re already in need of something. Whether it’s a desired partnership or more customers, they think only after the need is present.

The best way to operate is by including networking as part of the routine. When you make it a habit, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the benefits.

Personally, I have a reminder every Monday that pops up and reads, “Spend 30 minutes building networking calendar for the week.” It alarms me at 9 am and that’s my cue to begin scanning for possible events in my area.

This practice has allowed me to form multiple partnerships for Entrepreneurial Chef. And the best part, they were all very natural I wasn’t specifically searching for a need to fill.

Saying (and Believing) You Don’t Have Time

Here’s a line I used to give my employees, “Anyone, and I mean anyone, would find a way to travel across the country tomorrow if there were a million-dollar lottery ticket waiting for them.”

What does this statement represent? Perceived value and human ingenuity.

If you have enough value placed upon something you desire, you’ll find a way to get it – end of story. And though it may not be today or tomorrow, you’ll find a way.

So when people say they don’t have time, I say they haven’t placed enough value on the matter. You can always find time, albeit something may require sacrificing, but there is always time for things of value.

Eric Thomas illustrated the point when he said, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.”

Not Following Up With People

It seems silly to mention, but it happens all the time. After you connect with someone, especially if you feel there’s business potential, follow up! And do so in a timely manner.

The best advice is to schedule a follow up on the calendar immediately after meeting someone with business potential. And after the initial follow-up, place another reminder for the next one. Relationships spawn through familiarity, so you have to make it a point to stay in touch.

The Killer Networking Secret

I’ll warn you first, if you’re not genuine in your attempt to ask this question, it will never work. So the killer secret while networking is to ask, “Who’s your ideal customer?”

I know, it seems too simple, but hear me out…

When you ask this question, it communicates you’re serious about helping them. It’s not small talk – where are you from, what do you do – no, it gets to the heart of why the person is there in the first place – to grow their business. And how does one achieve growth, more customers!

After you ask the question, it will be natural for them to reciprocate. Once they do, it’s now your chance to explain exactly who you’re looking to attract for your business. However, as mentioned in point number one, make sure you’re prepared to effectively communicate!

Again, it’s a great networking secret, but only use this genuinely. I promise, if you only use this as a ploy for them to ask you the question, they’ll see right through it, trust me.

Entrepreneurial Chef Magazine

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