Last week, I was talking with a friend who was excited to have bumped into a childhood buddy. The two exchanged phone numbers and agreed to follow up so they could get together. A few days later, this was the text message I received, “Grrr… the phone number Joe gave me doesn’t work! Please write an article about stupid networking mistakes!”
Then, to my secret delight, I was cc’d on this tweet from a friend, “Best e-mail typo received this week: ‘Perhaps we can not talk further over a coffee.’ ;>}” BRILLIANT!
On another note, time and time again, I encounter people who either a) don’t have business cards at all or b) come back with the standard line, “I just gave away my last card.” Say it isn’t so!
And, this morning, I was stood up! That’s right. I was set to meet with a young entrepreneur who was seemingly eager to get together. We scheduled the date, the time, the place… I reconfirmed she was agreeable to all of those things and, she didn’t show up! Since I didn’t have her phone number, I emailed her to see if she was coming. As of the time of my writing this piece, I have not heard from her. Bummer.
Indeed, to err is human, but these are fundamental missteps that leave all parties feeling down about Networking. Don’t let it happen to you! Here are five quick tips for ensuring positive and productive Networking interactions:
- Ensure your contact information is correct. Whether it’s a phone number, email address or web url, when you deliver the goods, make sure they’re accurate.
- Proofread your messages. Think back to elementary school… at some point, your language arts teacher started marking you down for spelling errors and poor grammar – now it’s your turn to hold yourself accountable. This goes for emails as well as text messages (maybe especially for text messages when that troublemaker, Auto Correct, who lives inside your phone likes to randomly wreak havoc with things you enter into your device!). Train yourself to look over your messages before you hit the send button.
- When you run out of business cards, follow up. I can count on just a few fingers the number of people who have said, “I’m sorry, I just gave away my last card, but I will follow up with you by email and send along all of my contact information,” and actually done it! It’s no fun being on the giving end of business card exchange without any reciprocation by the other party. Without a way to reach one another, Networking between those two individuals simply stops short of its potential.
- Manage your calendar. When you book time with someone, do everything in your power to be there when you said you would be. If you can’t make it, for whatever reason, do your contact the courtesy of letting him or her know with as much advance notice as possible. Things come up, life happens, but people’s time is a very valuable asset and nobody likes a no show!
- Close the loop. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. So, if you say you’re going to send an article or make a connection or schedule a time to get together, do it.
Believe me, I’m just as guilty as the next person at making some of these rookie mistakes when Networking. If you find you’ve committed one of these Networking errors, pick yourself up, dust off and address the problem so it happens less and less frequently when Connecting with others.