Ever get invited to a “by invitation only” networking event or meeting? If so, it means that someone who’s an “approved attendee” or member thinks pretty highly of you.
Come to think of it, they may not think highly of you at all. But I guess that’s a topic for another article.
Let’s just pretend for a moment that you’ve been invited to a high-level networking event where all of the attendees require formal invitations. The last thing you want to do is attend the meeting and mess up. This not only makes you look bad, it makes the person who invited you look worse.
Naturally, when you make a great impression at a meeting, everyone wins … and you get invited back. Then, it becomes your turn to invite someone you think highly of, and so on.
If you’re a financial advisor, rep or broker, and you’re a valued regular attendee at a networking meeting or group, that probably says something. Why? Because there are plenty of financial professionals who do what you do. If you’ve been vetted and approved to attend a function, you’re probably a good networker and presumably a good advisor.
And that’s the point.
I co-lead a networking group that meets every other month in a major city. To attend the meeting, you must be invited. If all goes well, attendees get invited back. But that’s certainly not a given.
Here’s what you should avoid if you hope to get another invitation.
1. Add everyone you meet to your newsletter or blog.
At the very beginning of our meeting, we actually discuss this guideline, since it’s become a big issue. But sure enough, someone adds someone else (without permission) to their newsletter and away they go. Then, our group deals with the fallout.
Spamming those you meet with your newsletter does not make them want to know more about you and your company. In fact, it can be a turnoff.
Instead, if you think you have a great connection with someone during the business-card exchange, ask them if they would be interested in being added to your list. Or ask them in a follow up meeting, call or email. It’s called “permission marketing,” baby!
2. Assume all attendees are your prospects.
This is another red flag that we discuss at the beginning of our networking meetings, but it’s an approach that I see all the time when I meet new people or new networkers. Never assume those you meet at an event are prospects. They don’t appreciate it, and they are probably not prospective clients of yours.
Assuming every new contact is a prospect will only make you look like a novice networker. A prospect is someone who knows you, or knows of you, and is interested in becoming your client at some point. You know this because they told you. If that never happened, they’re not a prospect.
3. Only talk about yourself.
I know plenty of people (including friends and relatives) who spend most of the “conversation” talking about themselves. It’s annoying and draining. Who wants to spend time talking to people who only rave about their own accomplishments? Unsubscribe me, please.
If this has never happened to you, perhaps you’re the one who is talking about yourself all the time … I’m just saying.
Be mindful of what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Make sure that when you’re talking to people, you’re asking good questions about them and that you get equal airtime and bragging rights. Otherwise you might be talking to yourself.