I spoke this morning at a networking meeting about the importance of having a work plan for the meeting and a clear desire to go beyond superficial chatter during the meet-and-greets.  I was reminded of how some of us would be better off to stay home!  We actually do more damage to our business than good if we make these mistakes…

Dumb things other people do at Networking Meetings

* Wearing a name badge–I know I’m contrarian on this topic.  All the more reason to give it a try.  Name badges are crutches.  I prefer to actively engage in the name learning process. Name badges dummy down.  (The added benefit of NOT wearing your name badge is it drives the host nuts–expect to be asked, reminded, cajoled, threatened and rebuked–but celebrate your freedom from this old school ball and chain.)

* Looking forward–While meeting with me in a network environment, try hard to LOOK AT ME.  I know the person standing behind me is much more interesting, has a job opening and can hit a golf ball 300 yards.  But at least feign a little interest in our special time together.

* Broken Promises–Our intentions are good.  We told someone we’d call them next week.  Or perhaps we promised to send a shoe box of old baseball cards.  When we get back to the office… days turn to weeks and weeks turn to never.  We forget but they don’t.    The beginning of integrity is to do what you say you will do–however trivial.  We all drop the ball.  But we can all do better.

* WADERS — It’s much better to ignite one new relationship than to trade business cards with 15 people we probably will never see or talk to again.  Networking is about creating relationships.  It takes time to build a relationship.  If you aren’t ready to listen deeply to someone at the meeting may I suggest again, Stay Home!  It’s better for you if you do.

1- Come to the meeting with a plan to help someone

2- Explain what you do to help people.

3- Go deep

4- Follow-up quickly

5- Rinse and repeat

What mistakes have you seen made at networking meetings?

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