It took me 45 minutes this morning to properly follow up with 14 contacts I spoke with at a networking event last night. That’s about 3-ish minutes per contact – including time to briefly look up their website, see what their social media looks like (if they have it) and google them on LinkedIn. This short (but normal) exercise this morning prompted this blog because I see 7 “No-No’s” that are quite common in networking follow-up. Surely there are more than this, but I thought I’d hit you with the most glaring ones I see this morning:
- SOCIAL LINKS THAT DON’T WORK: If I go to your website and you have a link to nearly every social platform on it (or at least the big ones), I’m going to think that’s great. Awesome – they’re social! I can talk with you. But nothing is worse than clicking on those links only to discover they don’t work. Either they have a bad link or you actually don’t have a social site set up at all and those images are just placeholders. Better to take those links down than to have them lead to nowhere if you don’t have your social media set up yet. However, if you do have your social media accounts set up, that’s unfortunate because most people wouldn’t be willing to do the extra digging needed to find you. So if you’ve got a website up, make sure your social links actually work.
- EMAILS THAT DON’T WORK: Yes. I actually encountered 2 email addresses that don’t work this morning. Two out of fourteen, so that’s more than 10%. How you have a business card that doesn’t have a working address on it is beyond me, but if the problem exists, it’s worth sharing. The last thing you want is to hand a potential client a business card and then they can’t actually email you. If your email doesn’t work, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll take the time to call. Says something about your trustworthiness and absolutely takes away from your polish as a professional.
- NON-DOMAIN NAME EMAILS: I understand new start-ups not having it all together. I’m a new start-up myself. However, it’s far too easy these days not to have your own domain name for your website and a corresponding email address to match. The days of gmail, yahoo and God forbid aol email addresses are long gone. Pay a few extra bucks and get your domain name properly set up. It’s far better than the image hit you’ll take for not having it.
- NOT ON LINKEDIN: If you’re not on LinkedIn, you need to get there. Your business needs a company page (not to be confused with a personal page – another common problem). You also need a personal page for yourself. Several reasons for this and we can get into this on another blog post sometime, but trust me on this one. As a business owner, if you’re not on LinkedIn, it makes me question how serious you really are. At least have a decent digital footprint otherwise. Which leads me to point 5:
- DON’T NEGLECT GOOGLING YOURSELF: If you haven’t googled yourself in awhile, do it now. You need to know what pops up when someone searches you. Common quick searches I’ll do on businesses I’ve met are “Person’s Full Name Company Name City” – just to see what pops up. To Point #4 above, if I can’t immediately find you, I’ll also search “Person’s Full Name Company LinkedIn” and see if I can find you like that. Why? Because I want to know what pops up. What kind of digital footprint do you have out there? Is there anything good about you out there or nothing at all? If there’s nothing at all, it means you’ve got a great opportunity to change that with content marketing for your business (among other marketing ideas).
- DON’T FORGET ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS CARD: I like taking my cards home at the end of the night or the next morning, sifting through them and picking out the best ones. And likewise, you’ll also noticeably see the worst ones. Don’t be one of the worst. Look at your card with fresh eyes. As a new entrepreneur, it doesn’t have to be the most expensive card in the world, but it does at least need to have a clean design about it. If you’re a franchisee, there’s not much you can typically do about your design, that’s true, but then I would focus on the quality of your card instead. Just take a fresh look at your cards – especially in comparison to others in the room. Yours might need a refresh when you have the money to invest in that.
- WATCH YOUR FACE: Body language also. In a recent etiquette workshop I led for a group of high school girls, I stressed this point to them specifically because it’s such an issue at events (especially networking events). Does your posture / demeanor seem inviting or do you seem much more interested in the free food and drinks? Are you only talking to your friend you came with, or do you appear truly interested in meeting others? Smile. Be friendly. Work the room. Be warm and engaging. It’s what you came there for – to network!
Plenty of other tips from where those came from, but I had to share these while they were fresh in my head from last night. Got any other networking tips you’d like to share for entrepreneurs (or otherwise)? Please do! Would love to see it.