06 May 2012

9 Biggest Mistakes When Networking

George C. Fraser & HRJR
George C. Fraser created an organization called "FraserNet," and it is the largest African American business Networking organization in the country. He has also written books on networking.

If you're an African American whose business benefits from networking and you don't know who George C. Fraser is, you are doing your business a serious disservice. I have learned a great deal from this man and had the honor and pleasure of meeting him and seeing him live on several occasions (next goal: to share the stage with him).

Below is a list he has compiled called the "9 Biggest Mistakes When Networking." I know I was guilty of some of these things, but not no mo' (smile)! If you find yourself guilty of any of these ... the time to change is NOW.

9 Biggest Mistakes When Networking

1) What Can You Do For Me?
The main goal of all effective networking is discovering what you can do for someone else. Great networkers want to know what they can do for you, not what you can do for them. If you understand this, the rest is just mechanics.

2) You Don't "Get Out!"
Get out; networking is analog, contact sport. You don't do it alone from your office, phone or computer. Force yourself to go to tradeshows, conventions, and seminars. Get out there, meet people, and press the flesh.

3) You Won't "Shut Up!"
Ask good questions, and then shut up. The mark of a good conversationalist is not that you talk a lot; it's that you can get others to talk a lot. Ask questions like, "What do you do?", "Where are you from?", and "What brings you to this event?" Then listen. Ironically you'll be remembered as an interesting person.

4) You're Boring!
George C. Fraser, Founder of FraserNet
Unveil your passions. Talking only about business is boring. Your passions make you interesting. Good networkers unveil their passions after they get to know you. Great networkers lead with their passions. If you met me my passions are golf, reading, biographies, and jazz.

5) You're Uninformed!
Be informed. Read voraciously – not just business publications. You need a broad base of knowledge so that you will have access to a vast array or information during conversations. Even if you are a pathetic, passionless person, at least be a well-read one who can talk about a variety of topics beyond the weather and sports.

6) No Follow-up
Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up – please! In my career, I've given away thousands of business cards. If all those people called or e-mailed me, I'd never get anything done. The funny thing: Hardly anyone ever follows up. Great networkers follow up within 24 hours – a short e-mail will do. "Nice to meet you. I hope we can do something together." Thank you for recommending Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. I'm a member of Canterbury Golf Club; let's hit the ball together before the end of the season; on my dime."

7) No Business Cards
Please carry business cards, especially if you are in business or a professional. Make it easy for me to contact you. Don't give me your information on a piece of toilet paper. Make sure your card has a phone number, e-mail address and address. Please have it in 12 point type if you want old, famous, rich and powerful people to call or e-mail you.

8) Take First
Those that give first (give favors), win. One of my greatest pleasures in life is helping other people; I believe there's a big spiritual scoreboard in the sky. God is keeping track of the good that you do, and is particularly pleased when you give favors without expectation of return from the recipient. The scoreboard always pays back.

9) No Agenda
Have an agenda... in other words "Why are you there?" "What do you really need?" It's okay to ask for favors in return. Good networkers give favors and return favors. But great networkers ask for favors to be returned. But they never ask before they know the person and they never ask for something that the other person can't deliver. Finally, they never do for the other to keep them indebted to them. Life is give and take, so is effective networking.

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