Are you a Terrible Networker?

We all know the people who lend aid to the negative stereotype that networking holds.  But, could it be possible that you’re committing a networking faux-pas and not even knowing it?  Check out these signs that would indicate you need to brush up on your networking skills:

1. You ask for something, but push off the burden.

Do you ask for an introduction to someone or need something and your reply sounds something like, “Call me when you can”. The proper response sounds more like, “I’d be happy to reach out to you at your convenience. Please let me know when and at what number is best to contact you.”

2. You’re a card spammer.

When you meet new people, do you autotmatically hand them a card before they’ve even introduced themself and more so, before they’ve asked you for one? Cards are meant to be exchanged when the recipient asks for one, or, at the very least, when you ask if they’d like one.  Otherwise, there is a high probability you will rub someone the wrong way and they will toss that card right into the trashcan.  Don’t waste good paper and printing. Don’t card spam.

3. You lie.

Have you ever  made a white lie to a contact with whom you’re trying to connect? Perhaps reminded them that you met at a recent event (although you didn’t) or told them a mutual contact recommended you two speak (and they’re none the wiser)?  In any type of relationship it’s never okay to start off with a lie. Networking relationships are no different.

4. You talk too much.

What percent of the time does someone else get to speak when you meet them? If it’s not more than 50%, you’re doing it wrong and chances are you’re offering a monologue rather than a dialogue.

5. Taking to strangers is good, but you ask them for business.

Giving a referral to someone generally stems from having a relationship where you know, like, and trust them. If you’ve just met, chances are slim you’ve developed this rapport. Hence, how can someone offer you a referral yet?  Take the time to get to know someone so they can build trust with you.

6. You have darting eyes.

Can you think of a conversation you’ve had with someone when they can’t lock eyes with you because they’re too busy looking all over the room? Did that make you feel like they were ready to leave or were looking for the next best thing? Of course it did. So don’t do it to someone else.

7. You’re a taker.

It’s always best to consider giving to others before taking from them. Looking for a job? A date? A restaurant recommendation? A deal? Before you ask for someone else’s help,  ask  if you can be of assistance to them in some way.

8. You’re inauthentic.

If you don’t feel comfortable being yourself around new people, how are they supposed to get to get to know, like, and/or trust you? It may be tempting to try to emulate the life of the party or someone else you admire, but it’s always best to be your authentic self, even if that means admitting that you’re uncomfortable and it’s a little awkward for you.

Feel called out? Take a minute to consider which of these offenses you may be committing and choose to work on them.  There are always new people to meet who can be your guinea pigs. Just like with tackling your credit card debt, start with the worst offender and work your way down.

Off I go to shove a card down someone’s throat, passively set up a phone meeting, dart my gaze around a crowded room and talk about myself too much!

By Darrah Brustein
Darrah is the co-founder of Equitable Payments, a merchant services brokerage; author of Finance Whiz Kids, a series of kids book that teach the basics of financial education; and founder of Network Under 40, a social and professional networking franchise that helps bring Under 40s together to make valuable connections.

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