We’ve been talking about making more connections with your fellow online business owner and even being so bold as to turn your competitors into friends and allies. If you’ve missed any of this discussion, check these out:
- Forget Competition…Make Them Your Friends Instead
- 8 Meaningful Ways to Connect with Your “Competition”
Now moving along, and with the goal of making things easier for you, I’ve put together 10 networking mistakes you definitely want to avoid. A couple of things I’ve mentioned here and there, but now you have everything in one place…so there are no
excuses for flubbing it up.
1. Saying “How Can I Help You?”
I brought this up last week, but this one really sets you up for failure. If you want to connect with someone, you should know about their business and be able to anticipate what they might need. When you come to the table with a vague offer of, “How can I help you?” you are asking your potential connection to take the time to figure out how you might work together.
What to Do Instead: Do your homework and learn about their business first. Already have an idea of how you want to help them before you make your approach.
2. Asking for a Favor
The typical “JV” email tells people about your product, the awesome commission you offer and hopefully, your incredible conversion rate. But the problem is, offering a commission doesn’t really do anything for your new connection. They can join any affiliate program and earn commissions. Of course, you can give them a review copy of your product, so they can be sure what they’re offering is quality, but just like in #1, you’re putting the onus on them to do the work.
What to Do Instead: Help them before you ask them to help you. Refer to this list of 8 ideas for meaningful connections instead.
3. Thinking Likes and Comments are a Relationship
Here’s the typical approach to social or online networking: Like and/or friend on Facebook; follow on Twitter; connect on Linked In. Then like, share and retweet the post of the influential people you connect with. The problem here is that this is superficial communication and doesn’t let you stand out from the crowd. The relationship essentially goes nowhere or takes a very long time to develop into anything meaningful.
What to Do Instead: Take the conversation further and move it off social media. Again, you can do that by using one of these 8 ideas for meaningful connection here.
4. Thinking Business Cards Mean Anything
If you bring a big stack of business cards to a networking event and plan to give out as many as possible, you may as well stay home. Everybody collects business cards and when the event is done, the cards go into a desk drawer…pretty much completely forgotten. Making a meaningful connection and creating a concrete plan to further develop that relationship is what’s going to help you better than a business card.
What to Do Instead: Contrary to typical networking advice, try leaving your business cards at home, so you can focus on creating meaningful connections instead. When you make that connection, you can grab a pen or your smartphone and write down your contact information.
5. Believing EVERYONE is a Potential Connection
This one has me scratching my head all the time. When I owned a work at home moms site that was very business focused, I had all kinds of crazy requests to promote products. As soon as people heard the word “moms”, they thought I should promote their weight loss product, parenting product or just about anything else a mom might purchase.
When this happened, I would explain that it’s not a very targeted offer and they would still push because “moms are a big part of our audience.”
Then I’d have to explain, “Well the moms on my list expect business information from me and by asking me to promote something that isn’t targeted, you’re asking me to reduce my profits (because the offer won’t convert as well as a business product) and potentially alienate my audience.”
What to Do Instead: Keep your partners’ profits and reputations in mind and only offer the most targeted products only. And remember, you only have so many hours in the day. Spend them connecting with the people who are the best fit for your business.
6. Asking to “Pick Someone’s Brain”
If there’s somebody influential and successful in your niche, it might be tempting to ask if you can “pick their brain” over lunch or coffee. Realize that influential people get requests like this all the time and if they provide advice for a living, you’re demeaning the value of their time by thinking a coffee or a free lunch is enough.
What to Do Instead: Once again, refer to these 8 ideas for meaningful connections instead. Or if you really do want to get together to get advice and consultation, hire them. Respect their expertise and it will serve you much better.
7. Waiting Until You Need Something
Networking should be part of your business from day one. If you wait until you need help, you’re going to find it a lot harder to get anywhere. Remember that while you’re working on your next product launch and realize that you don’t have any friends to call on to add some buzz to your launch.
What to Do Instead: Develop relationships early. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a product to sell because you don’t start relationships by asking for favors. Take the time to have solid relationships in place, so when you need them, you can call on them.
8. Not Keeping Up Your End of the Relationship
Now you’d think this was common sense, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind. There’s nothing worse than promising to do something for a friend and then not getting around to it. But further than that, just like in real life, if your friend is putting more into the relationship than you are, it’s going to fizzle out.
What to Do Instead: That’s easy. Do what you say you’re going to do. Keep in touch with your friends and help them where you can.
9. Talking Too Much and Not Listening Enough
We all get passionate about what we do and it’s easy to dominate the conversation. If you find yourself talking to someone and realize that, after some time, you don’t know much about them…you’re probably talking too much and need to listen more.
What to Do Instead: Get to know your new connection by giving them a chance to talk. Ask questions and learn about their business and personal life. The more you know about them, the more you’ll know how you can help them.
10. Not Saying Thank You
As our businesses grow, the more people out there will do things for us without asking for anything in return. They’ll share our products, our blog posts and more…but most people don’t take the time to say thank you. That’s a real shame because that’s an important bonding opportunity that gets missed.
What to Do Instead: Pay attention to what people are doing around here. Subscribe to the lists of others in your niche and connect with them on social media. Take the time to say thanks when they take the time to sing your praises.
The important thing to remember is we’re talking about people. Even if you’re networking online, the rules of relationships are the same. If you’re looking out for yourself only, you’re going to end up alone. But if you embrace the idea of helping others, you’ll go places and you’ll go places quickly.