“I Can Just Show Up and ‘Wing It’” – 3 Myths About Networking

By Gilda Bonanno

Networking is a vital part of your business development strategy.  Here are 3 networking myths that can interfere with your ability to be an effective networker:

1.     I can just show up and “wing” it

If you are unprepared when you attend a networking event, you may not communicate as effectively as you want to.  Here’s how to prepare your networking strategy:   
  • Prepare a clear, concise introduction and message that is relevant to the people you will meet at this particular event.   
  • Practice saying your introduction and message with a smile, while making eye contact and maintaining good body language. 
  • Prepare a few questions to ask and topics to discuss that will make sense to the people you expect to meet.
2.     I have to go to every networking event
Networking takes time.  Attend a networking event only:
  • If it meets your criteria of target market, potential clients or people who can help you meet your goals.  (For example, if you work for a company, go to events where you can meet people or gather information that will help your professional development and career.)
  • If you can muster the required positive energy and enthusiasm to talk about your business or job and execute the networking strategy you’ve prepared.
Lackluster, low-energy networking will interfere with your efforts to develop a strong personal brand and build a solid network (and reinforce any negative feelings you might have about networking being ineffective).

3.     My goal is to collect as many business cards as possible
There is no point collecting a lot of business cards that end up collecting dust on your desk. It’s what you do with the business cards that matters.  Plan to follow up with those you think it’s worth your time to build a professional relationship with.  Here’s a few tips for following up: 

  • Schedule time in your calendar to follow up as soon as possible, while the connection is still fresh.
  • Send an email referencing something you discussed and if it makes sense, offer to schedule a call or meeting.
  • Connect on social media, where appropriate (usually LinkedIn).

Debunking these networking myths and implementing these ideas will enable you to become a successful networker, create a strong personal brand and build vibrant connections with clients and colleagues.

This article first appeared in Westfair Communications' Adventures email. 

GILDA BONANNO helps you transform your communication and leadership skills so you can have more confidence, influence and success. She has worked with leading organizations, including GE, Travelers, Praxair, Assa Abloy, Wells Fargo and Yale University, on four continents from Chicago to Shanghai and Rio to Rome. She is a frequent sponsor of Westfair events.
Videos: www.youtube.com/user/GildaBonanno (more than 1 million views)