You know that networking, whether formal or informal, is one of the very best ways to develop relationships that will lead to a full practice but are you sure you are doing it as effectively as you could be?
Check out this list of 7 common networking mistakes you may be making and, starting right now, make a concerted effort to avoid them. Small shifts in your approach can make a world of difference.
Pitching Business Before Developing a Relationship
You’ve just met someone for the first time. Want to turn her off quickly? Stuff a business card in her hand and announce she should call you if she needs a lawyer. That sort of behavior, in addition to being impolite and presumptuous, leads others to the conclusion that all you care about is yourself – more specifically, your bottom line. Don’t lead with greed; to the contrary, take the time to get to know those you meet and give of yourself before expecting to receive something in return.
Badmouthing the Competition
Just don’t do it, no matter how tempting. Your negative comments, even if true, say far more about your character than they say about your competitor.
Talking More Than You Listen
The best way to develop mutually beneficial business relationships is to get to know people and to show interest in who they are, what they do, and the pastimes and people they care about. Make your new acquaintances (and the old ones too) feel heard and appreciated by showing genuine interest in their stories. As a bonus, you will get to know things about them that will enable you to follow up, make worthwhile connections for them and perhaps, eventually, do business together.
Doing It Sporadically
Who reaps more health benefits from exercise, the person who does it consistently for years or the one who occasionally goes for a run? Pretty obvious, right? It’s the same with networking. When you only occasionally attend a networking event or contact someone on social media, you don’t have the chance to develop genuine connections with others and, because you’re not around, you’re not top-of-mind. Networking is as much about sustaining and nurturing relationships as it is about creating them.
Failing to Follow Up
Yes, you’re very busy. But if you don’t follow up with those you meet, you may as well not be networking at all. It’s okay to be selective – you don’t have to follow up with everyone. But your goal is not to have a drawer full of business cards that could have turned into clients and referral sources if only you had pursued the relationship. Put follow-up at the top of your priority list.
Making it a Numbers Game
Successful networkers are not the ones who are running around glad-handing everyone in the room, making cursory introductions and handing out business cards like Halloween candy. You’re not playing a game of chance – make it your goal to initiate a meaningful conversation with several people rather than meaningless bumper-car interactions with the multitudes.
Sticking to One Medium Only
Whether you shun online networking for face-to-face interaction or you rarely go out because you are holed up in front of your computer posting articles on LinkedIn, you are missing opportunities to connect with others. Take advantage of several different ways to interact with contacts, clients and referral sources. Each method has its value, and your flexibility will make you accessible to others.
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