October is Small Business Month
When starting a business or growing your already quasi-successful enterprise we are often told to get out there and NETWORK!!! Rub elbows, make those amazing connections and shazam...you’re worth a million dollars. Easy-peasy right? Does it really work that way? The short answer is no. Networking does, of course, have some value, but likely nothing that you can monetize or see a return from, at least in the short term.
What does networking do? Networking really is about relationship building. It’s not about getting a signed cheque or an investor to get googly-eyed about your awesome tech start-up. It’s about meeting people, talking to those you can learn from, having a drink and connecting on a like-minded entrepreneurial level.
Here are Top 10 Things Not to do while networking:
Don’t sell something...or constantly sell yourself...be yourself. We want to make a good...nay...great first impression. Constantly talking about yourself or up selling your achievements does not make you interesting...just annoying.
Don’t drink too much. You’d think this would go without saying. Stay sober if you want to make a good impression to potential mentors.
Don’t bring friends. You don’t bring your friends to the office, do you? Why would you bring the distraction to a networking event?
Don’t spam people with business card info. Ask if it would be ok to connect after the fact. Asking for a business card is perfectly natural at a networking event, as long as it with genuine interest and after well into a discussion. Even politely ask if it’s ok to connect on LinkedIn.
Don’t hand out business cards quickly and walk away. Don’t just collect them to spam people about your awesome ideas and money asks.
Don’t be a wallflower. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you came to make connections. Open up, be yourself.
Don’t ask the CEO for their personal email. The leaders at these events don’t want to be ambushed. And no, they probably don’t want to invest...don’t ask.
Don’t pitch your start-up to the guest speaker. If they wanna know...they’ll ask.
Don’t hesitate to ask lots of questions and be engaged. Be enthusiastic but not over the top. Gushing to CEO’s and thought leaders, again, does not make you interesting...just annoying.
Don’t ask for a job. Your main task at a networking event is to gain allies, not future bosses. Hey, if you get an offer, so be it.