The Three Most Expensive Networking Mistakes Your Staff Makes.
When you send your staff to holiday parties, luncheons or conferences, do they bring you a return on your investment? If they are not networking effectively, then they are wasting their time and your money. Everyone who works for you must know what to do – and what not to do – to properly represent your firm. They need to interact confidently and strategically, to make the connections that develop into project leads and business opportunities.
If your staff does not how to network properly, then they are costing you more than just the event expenses. They are costing you in terms of their time spent out of the office, and the immeasurable cost of lost opportunity. They may also be risking your firm’s reputation. Do you know what networking mistakes your staff makes?
1. Invisible Behavior
Invisible behavior is a term we use to describe the behavior that leaves no impression. It is behavior that makes it difficult for people to connect with you and remember you. These are common ways to be invisible at a networking event: Talk only with your coworkers. Talk only to the people you already know. Offer a weak handshake, or none at all. Don’t bring any business cards. Don’t ask the people you meet for their business cards. Meekly introduce yourself with only your first name. Look down or away to avoid eye contact. Don’t talk about the interesting projects you’re working on. Don’t explain what your firm does. Don’t share any information about your background, your hobbies or family. Don’t ask others for details about their work and their lives. Talk only about the weather and other boring-as-a-fruitcake topics.
2. Anti-Social Behavior
Don’t Be The Grinch. No one likes The Grinch. Holiday parties are not the place to complain about your holiday bonus, demanding clients, difficult co-workers or your personal problems. At a networking event last year, an engineer I had met at the coat check line started talking about his recent divorce, his depression and alimony payment amounts. While I felt sorry for him, I also needed to connect with business contacts. After listening sympathetically for a few minutes, I made a graceful exit from the one-sided conversation – and avoided him the rest of the evening. It is important to have an outlet for confidential business issues and personal problems – and that’s what human resources, friends, family and therapists are for. If you can’t put on a happy face, get in a good mood, and prepare positive topics to talk about, then you should avoid networking – or everyone else will avoid you
3. Inappropriate Behavior
- Don’t Be ‘That Guy’: This isn’t the Mad Men office party and you’re not Don Draper. Don’t be that guy who gets drunk, hits on his secretary, and insults his client’s wife. Do not tell sexist or racist jokes (or any other discriminatory or insulting comments).
- Don’t be ‘That Girl’: Don’t dress like you’re selling ‘personal services’ instead of professional ones. Too much cleavage and too-short skirts are why your sales prospect are hitting on you instead of hiring you. Don’t diminish yourself with fluffy conversation. If all you talk about is shopping and shoes, no one will take you seriously.
- Don’t Overdo It with the Booze: Many young employees think an open bar means an open invitation for “all-you-can-drink”. This can quickly lead to an open position for your replacement the following day. If you don’t remember what you did or said, someone else will.
If you’re doing something that you wouldn’t want posted on social media, then you shouldn’t be doing it at an office party. If you’re saying something that you wouldn’t want repeated to your boss, then you shouldn’t be saying it at an office party. The image you present determines how people react to you, and how they remember you. What you say and do at a professional event will reflect both on you and on the organization you work for – for better or for worse.
Take The Fireball Network Assessment Test.
Which of these common behaviors best describe your staff?
a) Do they know how to use the buddy system to work a room?
b) Or do they only stick with the people they know?
a) Can they describe your firm’s expertise in a memorable way?
b) Or do they use generic phrases that could describe any of your competitors?
a) Are they remembered by others as talented, connected professionals?
b) Or do they blend into the background as unapproachable wallflowers?
a) Do they follow up with their contacts to get leads and set meetings?
b) Or do they ignore the cards they collected and let the opportunities die?
If you want to improve your staff’s networking skills, contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Fireball Network delivers Networking Coaching to make sure that your staff knows what to say and do every at any event. We combine strategy, practical tips, confidence-building, role play and feedback to ensure that the training lasts all year long. We help you leverage the experience, contacts and personality of everyone on your team. Our training helps each individual – from the most introverted engineer to the newest associate – conduct business development confidently and successfully.