Make a list of the top 10 professions you dislike to deal with and you’ll be likely to find two always come to mind, dentists and salespeople.  We all know why we dislike trips to the dentist but why do salespeople get a hard rep?

After looking at the Harvard Business Review study of Seller’s Biggest Mistakes, I began to see a strong correlation between the mistakes they were making and effective networking.

Mistake #1 Don’t Follow My Company’s Buying Process

Having come from a sales position in the past, I can completely agree that we messed this one up all the time.  As human beings we like to have control.  However, when your buyer’s sales process doesn’t match the timeframe and process your sales manager prefers, you are left in an awkward situation.  Ironically, that often leads sales people to making some of the mistakes further on.

In our own networking, we make the same mistakes.  Instead of buying a service or product, our contacts buy relationships and time. Similar to buying processes, we all have different ways we prefer to communicate, interact, and build on each other.

For example, do you know people who get bored after you start talking for more than a few minutes?  Or those who prefer to text or email over an actual phone conversation?  Do you know people who enjoy company?  The styles and behaviors of your contacts differ just as much as those the businesses sales people sale to.

Mistake #2  Don’t Listen to My Needs

So you sell widgets that fix every problem a customer could possibly have.  However, as you continue ongoing conversations, you discover their needs may be a little different from what your widgets typically handle.  In response, you quickly smother that problem and get back to how great your widget is.

It’s a true story, that’s one of the tactics we were encouraged to use as a sales person, and it’s understandable why buyer’s would be put off by it.  At the same time, we make the same mistake when networking.

We know how great it would be to make a connection with so and so, and then seek out to introduce ourselves and give them a card.  A month later when we haven’t heard anything back from them, we wonder why they aren’t showing interest.  After all, we can offer so much.

One of the keys we teach in Value Based Networking, is to focus on the value you can provide your network FIRST.  Recently, I was at a convention with a bunch of comic and graphic novel artists.  I thought it would be really neat to have some original artwork showing superheroes trying to use social media, but how was I supposed to convince them to do that for me?

I knew that many of these people were trying to get recognition for their work as well. I happened to have a healthy number of social media contacts and followers on my own network that I could expose their work to and get them a good number of new audiences.

I introduced myself and told them I would like to share their work on my social networks where I have thousands of followers that would be very interested to see their take on social media from a superhero’s perspective.

I came away with arms full of great material and business cards that was above and beyond what I had come to the convention expecting.

Mistake #3 Don’t Follow Up

This one confused me when I first saw it.  Why would any sales person with all the pressure they have to hit numbers, neglect to follow up with their clients? However, when we consider how well we keep in touch with our list of networks, it’s fair to assume we can always improve.

I am quick to recognize my own mistakes in this area.  A month or more ago, I had lunch with an old co-worker and we had a great time catching up.  Yesterday he gave me a call to fill me in on some connections he made with the CEO of the company we worked with previously.

All I could think of after that call was, how awful I am at following up with my network.  I’ll have an excellent time and connection with someone and then let months pass before reaching out again to see how they are doing or to provide them some value.

Don’t let yourself make my same mistake.  I was lucky to get a call back, but who knows what opportunities I could be missing out on by neglecting the follow up.

Mistake #4 Are Pushy, Aggressive, or Disrespectful

Do you think sales people know they are pushy, aggressive, or disrespectful?  I think it’s usually one of two things.  One, they are clueless that they are behaving inappropriately towards their potential buyer.  Two, they are not naturally aggressive, but are encouraged to be so due to management, deadlines, or numbers.

In our own networking and relationships we may not always understand how we are appearing to those around us.  We may “think” our behavior is reasonable and that everyone is enjoying our company, when in reality our styles are conflicting.

One really powerful tool we use with clients are DISC, Value, and Motivator assessments.  They allow us to get detailed reports on a person’s natural and adapted behavior styles.  For instance, we can see how they react under stress, how other’s may interpret their behavior, and what truly motivates them.

Using this information, we can best know how to adapt our behavior to match the style that our contact’s appreciate communicating through.

What to Do Next

1. Check Out Value Based Networking:  If you are interested in more help with your networking, we have an exceptional program Fortune 500 companies have used to increase their sales, client relationships, and personnel training.

2. Download a Free Personal Assessment: Take a look at the assessments mentioned above.  See if they might be helpful in your networking or personal growth.

3. Browse the other networking blogs: If you click on Networking Tips under categories, you will find a variety of networking articles we have posted.

image courtesy of pj_in_oz