[Friday Learning] 11 Networking Laws of Diminishing Returns
Mindless networking is done by entrepreneurs by merely collecting a bunch of visiting cards. This article is about how entrepreneurs shoo away prospective customers, and investors, instead of wooing them. Learn the 11 laws of what not to do & to do while building network.
There is big myth that entrepreneurs think the more they will network, the more business they will gain. They invest their time, money in networking with unproductive outcomes. There is an inverse relationship between returns of time invested and the cost of networking. Excessive networking actually results in less gains of business.
Law no. 1: Begin networking by selecting the right event or gathering to attend. The forum where there are potential people to connect for your networking goals. If selection of event is wrong then it’s a waste of time. Connecting to everyone and anyone is useless. Most entrepreneurs do not have any defined networking goals. Looking to acquire more business sales by attending investor meet is a waste. For funding goals, being seen at investor meets helps. So map your networking goals.
Law no. 2: For most entrepreneurs networking is a one-way relationship building. They seldom learn about that person and allow that person to learn about them while in conversation. For most of them networking is about building database and shooting out blind emails. If all that you think while doing networking is about selling your wares, you have limited understanding about building relationships, trust and image. Instead, try and rub positive enthusiasm on people. Ensure that you have something to offer all the time.
Law no. 3: Entrepreneurs are advised to build their connections on social networks. They do enthusiastic search on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook to get connected to industry stalwarts. They are extremely happy if they get connected or followed back. In their shortsightedness, they tend to forget to engage with them next. On social networks, once connected, entrepreneurs should ask questions, share interesting information regularly, and build image of trusted connection. Mere connecting and engaging your social connection without any productive goal is mindless networking at work.
Law no. 4: In face-to-face events, entrepreneurs make a strong effort to approach those unknown, to connect for their business goals. They start blabbering about their company, sales-pitching at the first chance they get to open their mouth. Networking is about listening more than speaking. Let them talk about their interest and value they are trying to seek with the event. Opportunity should be used for gathering meaningful information about market, jobs, industry, happenings and customers.
Law no. 5: Entrepreneurs, while networking, tend to speak more about themselves, the products or their company or their achievements. Blowing your own trumpet will shoo away possible connect instantly. Be concise and pleasant in conversations. To engage successfully with connections, try to become a source of relevant, useful and meaningful information source. Such as, by asking open-ended questions like how do you find the session or the event going on. Become a trusted authority by being seen as someone having wisdom of distinguishing noise and signals. Be genuine, if you are fake, you will lose.
Law no. 6: Selfish networking never builds relationships. By only being self-centric, you may be able to do a hard sell transaction but never get a lasting relationship. Entrepreneurs need to learn to give back to their connections with social referral, appropriate endorsements, and relevant introductions. Act like a mixer to connect more people in events. People remember the selfless favour and will praise the effort. These investments in relationships pay back with accelerating returns.
Law no. 7: Entrepreneurs try to engage with companies, products or positions of the people while networking. It’s a myopic way of looking at people. Companies, products, brands, positions have limited shelf life, and keep changing with people associated with it. One-on-one meeting is only the beginning of relationship. Invest in people relationships for long-term basis. Remember, people remember people.
Law no. 8: Entrepreneurs, many times, show care-a-damn attitude by dressing up as jokers at formal events. Being seen as out of place in events is the biggest mistake one can make. It’s like being dressed to fail. Right dressing and etiquette play a big role in formal and informal professional event gatherings or parties. You are seen as approachable, worthy to talk and to initiate a conversation.
Law no. 9: Sticking with people whom you know at the event is unproductive time investment. Your goal is to build new connections. Make a courtesy hello to all and move on to meet and greet new faces. While in presentation, sit with people you do not know. See someone aloof, that is the best time to catch them and engage. To make your presence felt, join existing conversations at event with your two bits of views by being participative. Keep moving and mingling; when you want to disengage from the group, then excuse yourself politely. Ensure that a strict follow-up regimen is maintained with whomsoever you network with at events.
Law no. 10: Entrepreneurs are hassled with taking calls, reading emails, and forget to prioritize their event presence. It’s unpleasant to see entrepreneurs playing with their gadgets while trying to build connections. Many times they engage in aggressive discussion to make a point while in public and they lose that contact forever. Be assertive in talks but not aggressive as your goal is not to win argument but win people. Always maintain smile, an eye contact with person in conversation to show them respect.
Law no. 11: Entrepreneurs ignore the asset value of the event host. They do not even bother to acknowledge the host. Hosts, whether at by-invite or paid events, are very important assets. They need to be leveraged to get right introductions and building contacts. When introduced, ensure you have business cards to exchange with pleasantries. Extend help and appreciate the work of the event host. Befriend the event host and you will be able to dominate with your presence within the forum positively.
Moral of the article:
Stop believing that people trust because they are connected. Start practising people-connect, to build that trust. Mere lifeless networks are of zero value. Your net worth will be equal to your network only if there is a worthy engagement filled with life.
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