Click here to print this page.  
How to Avoid Common Mistakes and Maximize Your Networking Success
By Dave Block and Victoria Munro          

Small business is built on relationships, and networking can be an effective, affordable way to spread the word about your businesses. Realizing this, many business owners spend a great deal of time and energy attending networking events, yet without understanding how to maximize their success. In this article, we’ll focus on how to avoid common mistakes and get the best return on your networking investment.

Networking Turn-Offs that Can Sabotage Your Success

Attempting to sell your products or services the first time you meet someone
Handing your business card to someone who has not asked for it
Being so eager to gain new clients or customers that you convey an attitude of desperation
Focusing all your thoughts and attention on yourself and how you can get more business that day
“Wearing a mask” – pretending to be someone you’re not

Focus on Helping Others as You Network

Realize that networking is NOT all about you! It's about helping other people become successful. We each have different strengths, skills and areas of expertise to share with others. One of the basic tenets of Make-it-Fly® is that we grow stronger and faster when we help others to achieve their goals. It works! It’s immensely rewarding to help others, and networking affords splendid opportunities to do this.

Networking is about developing relationships and making friends. People usually want to do business with people they know, trust and have a relationship with. We’re unlikely to buy from someone who simply sticks a card in our hand and says, “If you need my products or services, come see me.” It’s arrogant to suppose that by giving a card to someone, he or she will automatically choose to do business with us. Successful business is all about building relationships!

When a client called us asking who we’d recommend for a particular need they had, we mentioned several names. We thought one of these providers would relate especially well with her and be the ideal resource. “No, she’s on the other side of the city, and I want to find someone closer,” was her response. However, at a networking event a few days later they were introduced, got to know each other and now have a win-win business relationship. Distance was no longer important. Simply showing up and making friends made all the difference!

Successful networking also involves making the effort to attend events on a consistent basis - becoming visible in the community. The greater your visibility and the more widely known you become, the more you’ll learn about the needs of others and how you can help them. When you focus on the needs of your fellow business owners, you’ll be able to connect them with each other and help them and build stronger relationships. Networking is the art of identifying people with whom you might have a connection, whether they are potential friends or power partners, and starting in motion the process of getting to know them. As you network, look for people whom you feel could become both friends and potential power partners.

Set up times to meet with them one on one. When you meet, always be sensitive to their needs and feelings – don’t focus on selling to them. A friend recently described an experience he had when invited to lunch by an individual he’d met at a networking event. The conversation was a one-sided hard sell, attempting to pressure him to sign up for this person’s services. He had anticipated a mutual discussion – learning about each other’s businesses. He felt deceived. This person missed an opportunity to begin building a great relationship through asking questions and listening to how he might help.

Once you truly appreciate what networking is and is not, you are ready to start enjoying and benefiting from the process!

About the Authors: Dave Block and Victoria Munro are co-founders of Make-it-Fly® LLC, a company dedicated to creating success for small business owners through creatively-designed programs and tools. Dave is known as the “Master Networker” in the business community and loves sharing how to become a successful business owner by learning the art of networking. Victoria has started and run nine different businesses.. To receive FREE business success articles with tips to help you with your business, sign up for their award-winning ezine, “In-Flight Refueling,” at:, and receive a free copy of the eBook, Get More Done in Less Time: 101 Quick and Easy Time Tactics & Tips.

You’re welcome to “reprint” this article in your ezine, print publication or on your website, as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the “about the author” info at the end).

Copyright © 2003-2007 Make-it-Fly, LLC. All rights reserved.