On Facebook alone, I get at least 60-70 requests per month to participate in events. I’d love to help everyone, but I’m limited by my schedule and commitments. For that reason, I typically tend to get involved with organizations that I know, or that involve my friends. You see, the secret to building a great event is the same as building a successful business. It’s the people around you. It’s your network. Many people do not know how to effectively network. I spend a considerable amount of time networking and building relationships, but I’m, by no means, a networking expert. But here are some mistakes I see a number of beginning, AND SEASONED, entrepreneurs and non-profits make.
1. Thinking networking is done after the “networking event”: The single biggest mistake I see people make is thinking that networking is another word for meeting people and exchanging business cards. Networking does not end at the end of a “networking event” it begins there. In fact, life is a networking event. To me, you are networking until you have established a relationship.
Secret: I do not go to networking events, unless they cater to a specific clientele, or to support a friend. I rarely find them to be beneficial to my particular business model.
2. Card collecting: Card collecting is going to networking events and asking every single person you see for a card, and then sticking one in their face as well. No conversation. No establishment of familiarity. Just “do you have a card” Effective networking isn’t leaving with a big stack of cards. It’s leaving with 3-4 good possibilities for further business or relationships.
Secret: If I don’t remember who gave me a business card when I get home, I immediately throw it away. I’m not going to call someone I don’t know.
3. Not doing basic research on their desired contact: I can’t count how many times someone has contacted me on Facebook to and asked these questions. “What do you do?” What’s your email address?” “Where are you located?” Seriously! You can find this out just by clicking on the “About” tab on my profile.
Secret: In my opinion, if you’re lazy doing your research, you’ll be lazy, with your work and not pay attention to detail working with/ for me.
4. Not doing advanced research prior to a meeting: The one thing that will make me want to immediately get up from a meeting is to ask me this question: “Tell me about your business.” You may as well get up and leave after I answer you. Because unless you blow me away, I will probably not do business with you. If you’re too lazy to do the homework for a meeting YOU requested, I don’t want you working for me, or representing me, or my brand.
Secret: Not doing research tells me you’re either cocky and think you know it all, or that you are lazy and think you can charm your way into the deal. I don’t need either one of those people.
5. Not asking pertinent questions: If you want to try to sell me something, wouldn’t you want to know my wants and needs? I have a very distinct clientele. There are specific things that I require. I don’t care, or want to know, about about 90% of the products a company offers. I want to know if you can provide me the product or service that I am looking for.
Secret: If you start explaining a bunch of products I don’t want or need; I’ll more than likely either get bored, or assume you don’t care about me, just my money. And I probably won’t do business with you.
6. Being initially TOO aggressive: I like forward people. But there is a difference between being forward and being too aggressive. I’m a Southerner. So by nature, I don’t rush into things. I take my time because it’s all about the relationship. If I don’t like you, I don’t work with you. If you try to push something on me, I’ll walk away.
Secret: Being too aggressive gives me the feeling you are desperate, and desperate people will do anything.
7. Not having something to offer in return when asking to partner: If we are going to “partner”, both of us should benefit. If your selling point is “It’s for a good cause and it’s tax deductible.” So is just about every other non-profit. If it’s a for-profit and you want my involvement but I’m not benefiting; that isn’t a partnership. That’s me being a free consultant. No thank you.
Secret: Not offering a benefit to potential partners gives me the impression that you are either not as far along as you want me to believe, or that you don’t value my time and expertise.
8. Setting Meetings Under False Pretenses: The one thing that will definitely make me walk out of a meeting and NEVER return your phone call, email, or any other form of communication is to tell me you want to meet to talk about getting some suits, and you show up with sales collateral, and try to turn it into a sales call. Financial planners are THE WORST about doing this! I will walk away and will never communicate with you again.
Secret: If you set a meeting under false pretense, it tells me you’re a liar and can’t be trusted.
These are just a few of the mistakes I’ve seen people make and how I feel about it. You may feel the same, or completely different. As the title of the blog says, it’s just my perspective. Do with it what you will. Until next time…… God bless and dress well.
William Wilson, CEO
William Wilson Clothing
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