10 Networking Mistakes – and how to avoid them
I have made so many mistakes along my networking journey!
When I first started my business I didn’t know the best way to promote myself. Thanks to networking and being around other business owners, I was able to learn what to improve about my niche, my offer, my message and asking for the business.
Networking can be a slow burner as it takes time to build relationships, however there are definitely ways you can improve your networking so you can get leads, attract clients and make more sales.
I’d love to reassure you that if you’re new to networking and it doesn’t seem to be working out for you, it’s OK. We all start there! Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made and my tips to help you turn things around so you can get the results from networking even quicker.
Mistake #1: Arriving Late (even though you don’t mean to!)
I used to have this tendency to leave myself exactly enough journey time that Google Maps said I’d need, but didn’t count for needing the loo just before I left, or losing my keys or unexpected traffic.
I would have every intention of being early but didn’t factor in the unexpected slow moving vehicle. There got to a point where I thought I was actually a slow lorry / tractor / learner driver magnet because I seemed to get stuck behind one every single time,
Arriving flustered and late does not give a good first impression. You also get to know people in the in between parts of the meeting so it’s well worth maximising your time in the room.
Tip: Give yourself 15 minutes extra travel time than you think you’ll need. If it’s a virtual event, make sure you copy and paste the zoom link into your calendar, or bookmark the email so it’s easy to find.
Decide what you’re going to wear the night before and get everything ready in advance. You’ll arrive cool as a cucumber and ready to focus on what you’re there for: connecting with others
Mistake #2: Giving Everything Away For Free
Do you find you prefer to avoid money conversations? In the early days of my business I did too and I was happy giving my coaching services away in exchange for testimonials. The problem was that I rarely made a free session the first step towards a purchase.
I showcased my coaching. They coachee got a breakthrough -but that’s as far as it went. I didn’t ask for the business or referrals because I wasn’t practiced in what to say, or how to say it. What I received instead was lots of recommendations and recognition, but very few sales.
It was great for my confidence and marketing, but not so much for my bank balance. Can you relate?
If you are new to a group, giving samples can be a great way to get known and build your referral network, but my advice would be to put some boundaries around this so that you are intentional, purposeful and strategic about your giving.
Tip: Practice asking for the business in a way that feels aligned and let people know what they can buy from you. Make sure if you are giving samples or freebies that you are receiving something of value in exchange. Make sure your giving and receiving is in harmony.
You could say something like…
“I’d love to show you how this can benefit you in exchange for a testimonial. And then if you like it, you have the option to purchase more”.
“This is how it works…” (explain how you they can buy from you).
“My business grows through word of mouth referrals – who else do you know that would benefit from this? Please can you introduce me to them?” Or, “How soon can you introduce me to them?”
In the Healing Business Mastermind we have a training on effective discovery calls and learning to love sales – click here to find out about membership.
Mistake #3: Getting Distracted by Opportunities
Networking is full of opportunities! Getting distracted by them was definitely a form of self-sabotage for me. When you’re new to networking or still working out your offering properly, it can be easy to distracted by helping other people or buying into their businesses.
I chaired the networking events, including selling tickets. I organised charity events from coffee mornings and fire walks to a full blown exhibition of local wellness businesses. Twice. All of these things I did for “exposure” and to give value hoping that it would come back to me.
I raised a lot of money for other people and charities, often leaving not much time to focus on my own business or sales. If Acts of Service is your love language too, it’s a good idea to be really clear of your boundaries and priorities.
Tip: If you are an empath who loves to be of service and can easily find your good intentions snowball and turn into a distraction, there is a beautifully simple word that can help you: “No!”
Ways to say no with ease and grace:
You can simply say “no thank you, it’s not for me”.
If you find it hard to say no and want to give yourself some thinking space you can say: “thank you for thinking of me, I’ll give it some thought and come back to you”.
If you get excited by ideas and feel like you can do everything…but later find that you’ve taken on too much and feel overwhelmed and put yourself last, you can say: “no thank you, I’m working on some priorities in my business at the moment and I don’t think I can give the time and energy it’ll require. Good luck with it and let me know how it goes”
Be grounded, get clear on your intentions for your business and have the courage to put your needs at the top of your list of priorities.
And if it does feel like something you want to do, make sure you are open to receiving value so that you don’t become drained and resentful.
Mistake #4: Being stuck in the spiritual closet feeling scared to share your gifts
Chances are, you are the rainbow sheep in your family! You love holistic health and probably have met your fair share of sceptical people along your journey to becoming a practitioner. It can be a lonely path to begin with and along with religion and politics; energy and alternative health practices can be controversial topics that can cause a stir. As a recovering people pleaser and someone who shies away from conflict, I found it hard in the beginning to truly own my gifts. This impacted the clarity of my message.
Tip- find a network of people that you can be yourself with. Be proud of your spiritual gifts and healing abilities! Think about all of the clients you have helped and make your message clear so you can reach more people.
Come and hang out with like-minded spiritual business owners at the Healing Business Facebook Community.
Mistake #5: Staying too long in the wrong group
Marketing is about timing – not everyone is going to be ready for what you have to offer straight away and networking is a medium to long term marketing strategy. When group members or their referrals are ready for what you have to offer, it’s important for you to be their go to person. I’ve definitely had the experience where I’ve invested lots of time, energy and money into a group and then discovered it wasn’t the right fit for me and my business. Sometimes exploring and knowing what you don’t want is just as useful, so take all the good learnings from the experience even if it didn’t give you the results you were looking for.
If you’re questioning whether the group is right for you, have a think about what you are getting from the group, and the value that it brings to you both personally and professionally. Sometimes the benefit can be as much about the community and support and that’s important too, especially if you find it lonely working from home or like to bounce ideas off people.
If there is no value, perhaps it’s not the right group for you and it’s OK to be honest about that. Are your ideal clients (or their friends and family in the case of referrals) hanging out at the networking groups that you go to? If yes, it may be a timing thing. What could you improve about the way you communicate your offer?
Tip: Decide on a time period that you will engage with a group. Be intentional about what you would like to receive and track your progress by measuring the outcomes such as, number of 1-1 meetings, number of leads/referrals, number of sales. You can also measure more intangible results like, growing in confidence, feeling a sense of community, being supported, practicing your message and honing your niche.
Ask for feedback from other members about what it is they think you do to check how your message is landing. You could also ask the leader of the group for their feedback and suggestions of how you can improve your results. They want to retain their members too so it’s worth having a conversation if you are considering leaving to see if there’s anything that can be improved or who they may be able to refer to you.
Mistake #6: Not having a clear marketing strategy
In the beginning I didn’t have a clue about marketing strategy! I was enthusiastic about the power of coaching and frankly, as a stay at home mum, was just delighted to be in a room full of adults not talking about babies!
Everything I learned along the way about creating an offer, marketing strategy, selling and being energetically aligned, I have put into the Healing Business Mastermind!
I loved meeting interesting people, would listen to their stories and what they said about their business and just found it fascinating. I was probably just happy to be an observer at the beginning- and when it came around to my turn to explain what my business was about I wasn’t exactly sure what to say. As I mentioned earlier, I invited them to sample coaching but didn’t have a way to move them into buying more or clearly asking for referrals.
Tip: Be intentional and strategic. Have you asked yourself your intention or purpose about when you go network? What would you like to receive? What are the exact steps someone can move through to go from being someone you know, to someone who’s interested in working with you, to a happy, paying client?
For example: “today I am setting the intention that I will have 3 x 1-1s in the diary” or “today I would like to attract 1 paying, ideal client from networking”.
Have a clear strategy means that you have a clear customer pathway that people can follow that leads to an outcome, such as a sale.
It could be that you would like to sell tickets to an event, grow your mailing list or promote your products and services. Think about what steps people can take to buy from you and make sure your message is really clear and easy to understand.
Mistake #7: Being vague about the solutions you provide and not having an ideal client / niche.
I used to say things like “I can help you get clarity” which, ironically, is a really vague statement! I honestly thought I could coach anyone for anything – that is the beauty of coaching!
I started out with a life coaching business and dabbled with ideas like body confidence for mums, getting organised and decluttering and making decisions through life transitions. I call it the “experimental phase” in a new business where you have your modality but you are still trying to find your niche and clarify your message.
My offer was vague and because I coached people in return for testimonials, the good thing was that I did get to work with lots of different kinds of people for all sorts of different circumstances. Through that experimenting I found my niche.
Tip: It’s OK to experiment but I recommend putting a time limit and some boundaries on it. Personally, I think it’s OK not to niche straight away, especially if it’s not immediately obvious to you. Get practicing and make sure you reflect afterwards on what worked, what didn’t work, what you liked and didn’t like, so you can refine your offering and attract even more of the clients you LOVE next time.
I discovered my niche through doing the ideal client profile exercise and it was a eureka moment. It was only through experimenting and reflecting on who lit me up, who I struggled through a session with and being clear on all the experience and skills I bring, that brought me to knowing who my business was for. And in turn I was able to get MUCH clearer in my offer, message and marketing strategy. I renamed my business, rebranded and created a whole new path for myself thanks to this one exercise.
How clear are you about who you serve and what problem you solve for them? How clear is your pitch and call to action? What can you improve about what solutions, results and outcomes you are communicating about your products and services?
Mistake #8: Winging your 60 second introduction
Let me tell you honestly, winging it at networking doesn’t work! Having been on a journey from being completely inexperienced to later chairing networking groups, I promise you that the more you prepare, the clearer your message is and the better results you will get from networking. The point of your message is to let people know how you can solve a problem for them or for their friends, family and connections. Most people get it wrong and stand up and talk about themselves.
People don’t need to know your whole life story…they just want to know in a succinct way what you do, who you serve and how you can help them. I put together a networking introduction formula to help you to come up with a way to describe you and your business in an appealing way that calls out your ideal clients and attracts them towards you, in a non-pushy or salesy way. There is a tried and tested formula to giving an introduction that brings you leads, download your free 60 second introduction guide here.
Mistake #9: Not keeping in touch with people
Networking is about building relationships. If you’ve been around the networking circuit a few times you’ll notice there are some people who think it’s more about sending spammy inbound messages to as many people as possible, sometimes without even bothering to say hello. Or have you ever had that experience when you only hear from people only when they want to sell you their latest thing?
You don’t necessarily need a fancy CRM (customer relationship manager), but having a simple system to keep in touch with people is so helpful. As I said, marketing is as much about timing as anything so having a smaller network with genuine connections that you keep in touch with is better than a large, impersonal list of names on a database. Keeping the conversation going can give you a sense of community. Personally, I like to use a mixture of notes in my planner (for people who I promised to get back to around a certain date) and following my intuition. If someone’s on my mind, I’ll drop a note to say I’m thinking of them. Oftentimes they’ve been thinking of me too!
There’s a famous networking saying “be a farmer, not a hunter”. People don’t like to be hunted down so that’s not what I’m suggesting here! Make genuine connections, collaborations and referral partners and keep in touch in a way that feels honest and natural for you, with no expectations of any outcome, other than to stay in touch.
Tip: Follow up with the people you have promised to follow up with. Keep in touch naturally with the people you genuinely like and can partner up with for referrals, collaborations and client work.
Mistake #10: Treating networking like a spending spree!
Did you ever get that feeling that networking is a bit like shopping?! Everything looks and sounds so brilliant and if you’re a generous person I’m sure you’ll love giving support to others.
Have you ever been to a car boot sale and came home with more than you sold or been to a table top event and spent all your earnings buying other people’s products? It’s so easily done and I would like to encourage you to:
- Have your giving and receiving in harmony
- Be open to receive
- Have a boundary about how much you would like to spend and be intentional, so it’s easier to avoid temptation
- Buy because you want it, not out of a sense of obligation or to make someone feel good
- Get really confident at communicating what YOU have to offer
- Learn to love sales (check out the training in the Mastermind if you struggle with this!)
- Welcome all the good things that money can provide you.
Which of these mistakes is most familiar and the one you would most like to avoid?
If it all seems a bit overwhelming, choose the most important area to improve on take simple steps to improve your networking results.
Did you know we have a Networking Your Way To Success masterclass in the Healing Business Mastermind?
In this Masterclass you will learn:
+ The different kinds of groups and what to look for when searching for the one that will suit you and your business
+ How being intentional will give you the best chance of ensuring your networking activity is purposeful and brings results
+ Why being prepared is so important and the key things you need to take with you
+ How you create an attractive introduction so you can make a good first impression
+ Good networking continues long after the meeting – best practice tips for following up and nurturing relationships
+ How to take your networking to the next level by raising your profile to build your visibility
+ The metrics you can use to objectively track your results and measure what outcomes each group is bringing you.
To get instant access to all the masterclasses, plus weekly group coaching calls for support and accountability- click here
Would love to invite you to share your insights, reflections and intentions with us at the Healing Business Academy Facebook community. You are can ask any questions you have about how to attract clients into your wellness business and manifest your ideal life and business with ease and flow.