8 ways to get business networking really wrong!

Sue Fish, Toastmasters International

As I have built my business through networking I can fairly confidently say that I have made every networking mistake in the book – so let me share with you my top eight ways to get business networking really wrong – so you can avoid making the mistakes I did.



1. No follow up:

Connections are made at the network meeting, relationships are built outside of it.  Get their permission to go on your mailing list, invite them into your Facebook group, connect with them on LinkedIn.  This will help them to remember you when they are ready to buy your product/service or refer you. The fortune’s in the follow up.

2. A poorly prepared pitch:

Don’t waste the opportunity by giving a mumbled, incoherent pitch that does your business no justice.

Work on a snappy pitch that describes what you do and what you offer, in 10 words or less.  Add a personal relatable story about how what you do has made a difference for someone, and what you are looking for from your networking colleagues.  Your aim is to grab their and for them to know who they can refer to you.

3. No interest:

Networking is not about selling. It’s about building relationships and finding out how you can support others.

When you approach other networkers, show genuine interest in them and what they do before even mentioning what you do.  Without connection, they will never buy from you or refer you. It takes time – but the payoff makes it worthwhile.

4. A sob story:

No one wants to hear that your business is struggling – and no one wants to buy from a struggling business.

However, do let them get to know you, share your vulnerability and lessons you’ve learned along the way, and ask for advice, as these will help you become relatable and build connection.

5. Discounting:

Unfortunately, lots of people will try to get you to discount or give away your product/service for free.

Counter this by researching the market rate, knowing your value and what added value you bring, and respecting yourself. Stick to your guns regarding price, and they will appreciate you. If they don’t, move on and find someone who does – don’t compromise on your worth.

6. Bringing the children:

I have been to several networking groups where mothers have bought their very young children along – creating a barrier. At professional networking events, I have noticed that their attention is too often diverted onto their children rather than listening and connecting with others. Also, many will see you as not serious about your business – even if you are!

7. Being pushy:

Listen to others, be polite, friendly, approachable, and do share your passion because people will buy into that. Avoid being evangelical and desperate as this definitely turn people off.

Remember, your product/service isn’t going to be for everyone and that’s ok, so know when to walk away. But, always keep the door open for them to approach you again in the future when the time is right for them, or for them to be able to refer you to others they may know.

8. Being average:

Alongside building relationships, you need to go above and beyond with your customer service and deliver real value. This will make you memorable. And don’t be afraid to ask them for a testimonial for your website and at the next networking meeting!

By avoiding the mistakes above you be sure you’ll get the most from the time you spend networking.



Sue Fish is from Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of meeting locations. Headquartered in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, the organisation’s membership exceeds 352,000 in more than 16,400 clubs in 141 countries. Since 1924, Toastmasters International has helped people of all backgrounds become more confident in front of an audience. There are more than 300 clubs in the UK and Ireland with over 7,500 members. To find your local club: www.toastmasters.org  Follow @Toastmasters on Twitter.


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