I always have – I’m one of those people that get out of any networking event bright eyed and bushy tailed, with a number of business cards in my purse and new prospects and potential paid speaking gigs on the horizon.
Many paid speakers are masters at networking; we know that building a strong network is one of the prerequisites for having a successful public speaking career.
And although many people have heard that this is how it’s SUPPOSED to be – not everyone gets the same results.
In fact, a lot of people leave networking events disheartened, feeling that networking is a complete waste of time.
But here’s the thing…
If you want to become a public speaker, you have to learn how to build relationships with different kinds of people.
So, what do I – and other people who have felt the positive impact that networking can have on their professional speaking business – do differently?
Here are the 5 most common networking mistakes that prevent you from making the most out of the networking opportunities in your industry and building the speaking career of your dreams.
1. You limit yourself
If you’ve been in this for a while you already have some connections.
And although cultivating the already established relationships you have with your colleagues and industry peers is a must, you also need to reach out beyond your circle of friends and acquaintances to learn new things, get access to new knowledge, and hopefully, create opportunities for new business and paid speaking gigs.
2. You are not deliberate
Okay, so we just established that it’s important for you to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people you haven’t met before.
But be careful – a lot of professionals fall into the trap of trying to build relationships with just about anybody.
Are you deliberate when you’re networking, or are you just randomly meeting new people, hoping that at least some of them would be the right fit for your industry or niche?
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t meet people spontaneously and just enjoy yourself – do it!
However, if you’re looking to go to the next level of your speaking career and want to meet certain people who can help you become a better speaker and get more paid speaking opportunities, you need to be deliberate.
Networking without a clear goal in mind can be a huge time-suck, and the last thing you want is to spend your valuable time on meaningless meetings.
So, how do you make sure that you expand your circle with the right connections?
It all starts by building your personal list of people that you’d like to meet.
Be positive, but stay realistic – adding Oprah to your wanna-meet list is a long shot. You may want to start with industry professionals who are at the same level as you are, and go from there.
3. You expect everything, without giving anything in return
The most common mistake I see people make is networking when they need something, because they need something.
Be it a new job, leads, paid speaking gigs, or expertise, a lot of professionals expect to get something out of every meeting they attend – without giving anything in return.
Now, here’s the problem – networking is not about going to an event one time and expecting others to do things for you. No one likes the idea of being used or likes being sold to. Networking is about building high-quality relationships based on reciprocity.
To do this, you need to approach every networking opportunity asking yourself what kind of value you can provide.
This way, you’ll avoid coming off as inauthentic and you’ll be able to strike up genuine conversations.
When it comes to networking, you need to learn to play the long game. Your benefits will come after you’ve provided some value or shared your expertise.
Start early and make networking part of your professional development routine, instead of looking for new connections only when you need them.
4. You only talk about yourself
Nobody likes people who are only talking about themselves.
The problem is, even though we all know this in theory, it’s really easy to start talking about yourself, your achievements, goals and so on, especially when you’re trying to grow your speaking business and want to make a good impression.
Ironically, going on and on about your skills and qualities, will do just the opposite.
So the next time you speak with someone, don’t make everything about you and LISTEN before you speak. By practicing active listening, it will be much easier for you to make great connections and align with ideal customers.
5. You don’t know your value
Finally, a lot of people do not know how to effectively sell themselves and their expertise, because they are not clear about what kind of value they bring to the table.
More often than not, professionals talk about the skills they have instead of the value of these skills.
So, when someone asks you what you do, you don’t want to say:
“I’m a public speaker”.
This statement tells me (or the person hearing it) nothing. It just shows what you do, which is great, but doesn’t show your value or what makes you different from all the other speakers out there.
A good statement that focuses more on your value would be:
“I help entrepreneurs and small business owners leverage speaking engagements and networking events to raise their brand awareness and create interest about the products and services they offer.”
Much better, isn’t it?
For more everyday motivation and tips on public speaking, join the Global Speakers Network on Facebook. Also, make sure that you never miss a blog post and Download My Free 10-Step Guide to Becoming a Paid Speaker if you haven’t already – I’ll also send you a free quick guide that will help you kick off your journey as a professional public speaker today.
See you on the inside,