Networking Don'ts: 3 Networking Strategies That Need to Stop Today
It's very important to network and nurture relationships in your personal and professional life. I totally get wanting to be cool with someone or wanting to know information that others seem to have. But, ladies (and gents), there is a way to do it. There are a few things I've experienced that are not acceptable when attempting to network with me or for me (you'll understand, keep reading).
Understand that the purpose of networking is to have mutually beneficial relationships with various people in various areas of business and life. It is important that you create and police boundaries as you network. It is equally important that you respect the boundaries of others while networking.
There is more than one way to skin a cat people. There is a right and wrong way of doing things. For me, the following things need to stop or be improved in order to get what you want and genuinely connect with someone.
Fake coffee Invitations.
I love coffee! Coffee invitations are a great way to introduce yourself to someone or to catch up with someone if you're familiar with one another. I am not against coffee invitations at all. BUT, I am against this bait and catch mess a lot of people are on. To ask someone for their time to get coffee and to know that you really want a strategy session or to pitch them your business idea or to take your shot (on some dating ish) is sneaky. Listen! This is not what's up.
One way to surely rub me the wrong way is to say you want one thing and you have an entire agenda in the background. You will not like my reaction. I am sure myself and others will not waste time with you again.
I respect straight forward people when it comes to getting what you want. Making people read-between-the-lines, decoding, guessing or anything other than the full truth is not the play. It is the easiest way to get blacklisted. People talk. Watch how you move in your community or industry. You do not want to be "that" girl or guy.
Granted, you can't stop others from talking about you. However, if you want to connect and build with others. You have to stop going about it this way.
I read something on Instagram about someone who avoids going to celebrations/parties because their family/friends advertise their accomplishments and what they do for a living then volunteer them to help the person who needs help.
I've been here several times. It has happened while I am eating dinner, having drinks, at a baby shower or even on the way to a get-together. Someone says, "oh my friend Nat does XYZ, she can tell you how to do XYZ". Then proceeds to start an open discussion about something I would normally charge for.
First of all, I am off the clock. I do not mean to offend anyone or make the rest of our time together awkward. I am also fine if it happens, but it's just not cool to volunteer other people's time, knowledge and talents in an inappropriate settings like such.
The reason why you gather is the exact reason why you should be together. It is rude to the person who the celebration is about and the host of it. Business is exhausting as is. When we are off, we are OFF.
The appropriate thing to do is to introduce us and lightly state why we should link up. There may or may not be an exchange of contacts and simply we move on.
Asking before building trust
When you start a relationship of any kind at the point of need, you start a foundation that isn't solid. Starting a relationship with your hand out whether that's time, money, material things, intellectual things, etc. is not a good idea.
When you get to know someone, you have to let time do it's things. It's no different than dating someone. What you think you might want may be just a piece of imagination. You may not want it when you actually get it.
Learn to nurture relationships for greater good. Stop asking for free stuff. Free time, free money, free companionship. Give what you want to get. You may not always get it back, but asking before showing that you deserve anything is a way to fail at networking or nurturing for that matter.
BONUS: Inappropriate greetings/lack of professionalism
Let's get straight to the point here.
When you contact someone, please speak and greet them properly. It shows a sign of respect and that you have manners. Simply emailing or messaging "what kind of XXX is that?" or "how much you do you charge?" or "hey you naughty girl you (this really happened)" to someone you don't know is not the best way to get someone's attention who would want to communicate back.
"Hey girl, hey boo, what's up, what's good", etc. is not a good greeting when you are aiming to reach an influencer or someone you admire. Wait until you build that relationship because, in essence they are none of these things because they don't know you like that and vice versa. A simple "Hello/Good afternoon", etc. would suffice then get the conversation going, then get to the point.
Maybe it's me but there are just some things you don't do to people. Approach people in the way you'd want to be approached and if those approaches don't bother you, to each its own. Always think about the foundation you're building relationships on.
If you have a friend who volunteers you for things tell that friend about your boundaries and stick to them.
Example: Friend, I am happy that you are happy for my accomplishments and business ventures. However, it makes me uncomfortable when you tell people that I can help them when I want to enjoy time not working.
Let the conversation naturally happen from here. If that doesn't work, you know what you need to do.
Have y'all had some networking failures lately? I want to hear in the comments.