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Business Unplugged™
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.

How Not To Network: The Worst Networking Mistakes

Written By: Carol Roth | 6 Comments

Networking is an essential aspect of almost all successful small businesses. But, what you shouldn’t do when networking can be just as important as what you should do. So that you can avoid these networking fails, we have asked the fantastic CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share the worst networking mistakes that they have ever seen (or done!). Their answers are presented below in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. What's in a Name?

The biggest networking faux pas I've encountered (and maybe done) is misspelling a person's name or addressing the person by the wrong name. I've been called Tobin, my last name, many times and it's a pet peeve of mine. If you are doing business with an individual, addressing them properly is a sign of respect. Additionally, in today's day and age, it is easy to double check that you are calling a person by the right name - check their social media and use their name as it is specified there!
Thanks to: Hannah Tobin of Kingsgate Transportation.

2. Don't Bash Your Competition

The worst networking strategy I have ever come across is a business owner spending the few minutes we had together talking about how terrible his competition was, highlighting one of his biggest competitors several times. When I needed a company in that industry, all I could remember was that 'terrible' business.

Never talk negative about your competition. Not only will you look unfriendly and unprofessional, but you will also plant your competition in the mind of your potential clients.
Thanks to: Evan Harris of SD Equity Partners.

3. Do Not Hit REPLY ALL!

Oh my... in all my years of being an executive assistant, the worst mistake I could have made was to reply to an internal confidential email... with reply all. Not only did it expose all of the confidential email addresses of the recipients, but it also showed who knew what about whom and when. As far as building trust, I'm lucky that this happened in the beginning of my career and not when memories were the freshest at the end!
Thanks to: Warren Bobrow of Cocktail Whisperer.

4. Wrong Website On Business Card

I recently picked up a business card of a dog walker to help me with my dog during the week, but when I typed in the website that they'd included on their card, I couldn't find it. After an online search for their brand name, I eventually found the site and realized that they'd used '.com' on the card, which was the wrong extension (theirs was '.org'). They could be losing huge amounts of business from customers that try to find the website, but look elsewhere when they can't find it.
Thanks to: Max Robinson of KB Kitchen Fitters Glasgow.

5. Don't Think You Know It All

One of the biggest networking mistakes I have experienced and hear is the lack of follow through. People will spend countless hours meeting with potential strategic partners and decide in one meeting a person is not worth keeping in touch with. Building a networking ally takes time and energy. People do not open up in a first meeting and share all the influential people they know. My advice: qualify in your first meeting if you like the person and give them a chance to show their value and yours.
Thanks to: April Jaffe of Raise Your game.

6. Are You the Silo Messenger?

We have all been seen and heard those who freely broadcast just how terrific they are. The problem with this is that these folks put themselves above everyone else. Even worse, they talk down to us and convey that we need their help. The high degree of self-importance only serves to turn off the majority. This is referred to as the silo effect. The better approach is to listen with the idea of a potential collaborative effort. This strategy is what paves the way to success.
Thanks to: Elinor Stutz of Smooth Sale.

7. Hello! Got Referrals?

The worst mistake is asking for something, a referral for example, before you've built rapport. Why would I give someone I don’t know a referral? I first need to establish if the person is trustworthy, competent, and pleasant to work with. Building proper rapport happens over multiple meetings and discussions conducted over time.
Thanks to: Adam Drake of Highland Investment Advisors, LLC.

8. Networking is Like Dating

When first dating, you go on lots of first dates. When you really like someone, you ask for a second date. Without it, you’ve lost the opportunity to grow the relationship. Networking for small business is exactly like this. You go on lots of first dates. But you never follow up. And that's why you’re not seeing the results you desire with your networking efforts. Networking isn’t about lots of dates; it’s about building relationships. And effective networking is all about the follow up.
Thanks to: Michelle McGlade of MM International, Inc.

9. Bring Value...

When people meet to network, they try to instantly sell or try to get into the list of contacts people have taken years to build. This makes people raise their guard.

Please make sure that you state where the mutual wins are for dealing with you... is it a JV, affiliate, or the chance to make a new product or service?

Are you after market information? If so, where can you give value back to the people you are approaching?
Thanks to: Carl Barton of In4rm.

10. Expecting...

...that other small business owners will be motivated to refer clients to you is a big mistake. And if they all seem to want to hand you a business card and ask if your mom, brother or dog needs insurance, a dentist or to have their rugs cleaned, I suggest making that meeting your last.

To me, true networking occurs at events where successful entrepreneurs go to share and learn about what is working from marketing strategies to hiring procedures and more.

Expect nothing and gain everything!
Thanks to: Jim Josselyn of School of Music and Drama.

11. Spell-check B4 Throwing Shade!

I was doing PR and A&R for an indie record label in 2000 and someone sent a bad demo. I politely declined, which prompted the would-be star to lash out at "Jim" (my name's actually Jason) and accuse me of being "unpreshional." Needless to say, that person was never to be taken seriously by our label again. Also, I'm still called Jim by my old label mates — 16 years later!

Takeaways:
A) Never respond in anger
B) Spell-check ALL messages
C) ALWAYS get the name right, even if to insult
Thanks to: Jason Myers of The Content Factory.

12. Ask For Referrals

The worst networking mistake I've ever made was any time I didn't ask the people I was speaking to after I described the type of business that I do if they knew anyone who would need my services. You don't need to bully anyone into doing it, but you do need to ask. Your business will grow at too slow of a rate if you wait for people to volunteer to refer you. Let people know that no matter how impressive your business may look on the outside, you are never too good for referrals.
Thanks to: Marissa Russell of The High Achieving Woman.

13. You Have to CARE!

In the last 25 years, I have gone to more "networking" events than I care to count. The one mistake that I see over and over is that people just don't seem to care. People take business cards without asking questions. They don't take the time to interact with people, understand who they are and what they are all about or what you can do for them. This happens as much online as it does off. How many people connect with you on LinkedIn and then disappear? Take the time to CARE when you network!
Thanks to: Ben Baker of Your Brand Marketing.

14. No Cards - No Business!

At networking events or new client meetings, I'm amazed at how many people don't have business cards! Sure, we have all kinds of digital touch points but cards are easy, cheap and can be creative. Biz cards are a great way of having a potential client have an "ah ha" moment and remember you. Cards are touchy-feely, helping people know who you are. Bottom line: don't leave home (or your office) without one!
Thanks to: Mark Alyn of Mark Alyn Communication, Inc.

15. Networking: It's NOT About YOU

The worst mistake I experience at networking events is meeting people who are only in it for what THEY can gain.

You know the type - they hand you their card and then spend 20 minutes rattling on about what they do, never noticing the social cues that they've talked too much!

Effective networking starts with asking questions - learn what others are trying to accomplish. Then help them, if you can. #1 Rule: Give first!

Demonstrate your interest in others and they'll usually reciprocate.
Thanks to: Stephanie Hackney of Branding Masters.

16. Crappy Cards Are A Buzz Kill!

The worst mistake in the world of networking is a crappy, hard to read, over-stated, uber-glossy business card with scant details and little contact info - or, having no card at all. Cards are a high-value, low cost, old-school 3 1/2” x 2” piece of business real estate that still rule, even in this golden age of technology. Cards travel well and speak for you even from miles away. Stash them in your glove box, gym bag, purse, man-bag, trunk, and never leave home (again) without them.
Thanks to: Gayl Murphy of Interview Tactics!.

17. Hello Stranger; Do Me a Favor?

You meet, greet, have a sip of your coffee and ten seconds into your conversation, your new networking contact asks you for a favor. Real networking is all about relationships, forming and nurturing them. So when the moment arises, you are top of mind for referrals or you have the perfect contact to share. Folks who cruise events gathering business cards and asking for sales, jobs or favors from those they just met come across as socially tone-deaf and unprofessional. They ooze desperation.
Thanks to: Karen Southall Watts of karensouthallwatts.com.

18. Really Creepy Networking

I met this guy who would bring a checklist to accomplish and a list of "interesting tidbits" to share with the random people he would meet. I'm sure it was meant to help him stay on track, but it came off really poorly. There was no personal connection with others and it was kind of creepy. Unfortunately, it would have been better had he not come at all.
Thanks to: Matt Hallisy of The Negotiator's Playbook.

19. Qualify the Tribe

Business networking can be a great way to connect with new clients or the biggest time waster in your busy schedule.

If you are considering attending a networking event, do yourself a favor by first making sure that the people attending will either:

1. Be your ideal client or

2. Be the people your ideal clients will be talking to when they discover they are in need of your services.

If you can't guarantee at least one of these options... don't waste your time.
Thanks to: Jennifer Martin of Zest Business Consulting.

20. The #1 Worst Thing You Can Do

I have been to 100s of networking events since I started my business in 2001. Without a doubt, THE worst thing you can do (in my humble opinion) is walk up to someone at a networking event and just hand them a business card. I see it happening to this day. This is the best way you can possibly communicate "I care less about you".
Thanks to: Bill Gluth of Creative Thinking for Business.

21. Sotally Tober: Avoid Alcohol

"Bob" goes to a networking event; "Bob" has a few cocktails; "Bob" has a few more cocktails; "Bob" meets important contacts and prospects; "Bob" can't remember names; "Bob" tells inappropriate jokes or stories; "Bob" forgets to ask for business cards; "Bob" is remembered for all of the wrong reasons. We all know a "Bob"; Don't be a "Bob". Tip: Order a sparkling water with a lemon or lime and hold the Lemon Drop, Jack and Coke, or Wild Turkey for the weekends.
Thanks to: Denise Anne Taylor of Competitive Advantage, Inc.

22. The One & Done Networkers

The biggest networking mistake I see is a first-timer coming to an event and handing out business cards like a person giving out samples at Costco. Repeat visits to networking events are essential for the people there to acclimate themselves to you and your story, so identify the groups you'd like target and commit at least 4-6 consecutive visits to build a relationship with the regulars. They'll give you some great insights into the group dynamics.
Thanks to: Spencer Smith of Spencer X Smith Consulting.

23. Don't Be Greedy

Asking for help too soon is the biggest mistake you can make when networking. Don't show up and say something like "Hi, I'm Bud. I'm a career coach. Do you need any coaching or know anybody who does?" This approach turns people off. Build relationships first. See what you can do for other people -- even it's just an introduction to someone they should know.

In short, pay it forward when networking. You'll build a strong network of people who will be willing to help you when the time comes.
Thanks to: Bud Bilanich of The Common Sense Guy.

24. Quality or Quantity

I had a colleague that would brag about the number of business cards he handed out at chamber events. That’s not an accomplishment, that’s an activity – he didn’t last long.

Whether it’s a Chambers of Commerce event or your favorite Twitter hangout, potential clients are not there for your benefit. Slow down and focus on the other person.

Focus on building long lasting relationships with a win-win outcome.
Thanks to: Bob Shirilla of Keepsakes Etc.

25. Take a Short Elevator Ride!

When asked what you do, start talking and don’t take a breath for twenty minutes. By that time, your listener has fallen asleep and you’ve blown it. Instead, create and rehearse your “elevator speech” to pique interest, have business cards or brochures ready to offer, and allow your listener to share their pitch before moving on to the next person. Be brief -- the elevator may not go to the top floor!
Thanks to: Flo Selfman of Words à la Mode.

26. A Deck of Cards

Have you ever walked into a room and been bombarded with cards? The novice attacks from the front, becomes Stretch Armstrong from the side reaching through a throng of people, or pats you on the back as he comes around with a card in hand.

Before you know it, you have a deck of cards in hand from people you know nothing about. Networking works when people KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST you. They didn't even make an attempt to know you before shoving a card in your hand as they mumbled their name.
Thanks to: Royce Gomez of Royce Talks.

27. FOMO

At times, some of us suffer from the "Fear Of Missing Out". This is when we feel that by not attending events, one is missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime. While it is important to get out and make things happen, one has to realize most of these events are ways for a business to make money. So, why not create your own business to plan events for? The best networking experiences are targeted events that have like-minded people in your circle of intentions and goals.
Thanks to: Vickens Moscova of Moscova Enterprises, INC.

28. Bad Networker Poster Child

In the middle of a conversation with a new acquaintance, Joe walked up (barged in would be more accurate!) and, without waiting for so much as eye contact or a break in our conversation, demanded “You got a card?”. I was so stunned, I invoked my favorite defense – honesty!

“Yes, I do.” said I. “Do you?”

“I haven’t needed one in ten years. I write the XYZ Newsletter.” says he. I broke all speed records unsubscribing from that newsletter when it arrived the next week!
Thanks to: Elene Cafasso of Enerpace Executive Coaching.

29. Mindless Card Dealing

Distributing business cards randomly to anyone and everyone at networking events is like you are playing cards dealing to the "players" from your deck. No one is going to take a card from someone they have hardly met and barely even got to know. Make connections through conversation first, then exchange cards as a means to continue the next conversation after your initial meeting at the networking event. Stop wasting energy on dealing your cards and focus on having a conversation first.
Thanks to: Myles Miller of LeadUP.

30. What Do You Do?

Don't try to be all things to all people. I may do a plethora of services, but I have found when networking, focus on one. People are not there to hear about you; they want to speak about themselves. Ask questions and listen. Then when you speak, tell them about your one thing that fits their needs best.
Thanks to: Gwen Hawver of Vision Interface.

31. An Unforgettable Compliment

I was working for a client in the manufacturing sector and a colleague asked me to introduce him. I scheduled a lunch and prepped my colleague with information on the company's products, challenges and goals.

After introductions, my colleague began making enthusiastic compliments about their products and the fantastic job they’ve been doing. Unfortunately, he said the name of the RIVAL competitor, and touted the rival's products and achievements. The client left within 5 minutes.
Thanks to: Tina Hawkins of Yarber Creative.

32. Focusing on Quantity

Most people try to meet as many people as possible on a given day. It's not the breadth, but the depth of the relationship that matters. A famous researcher said, an average person can maintain a close bond with just 150 people at a time. So, keeping this in mind, you should focus on the right target market. The type of people who can help you get ahead and try to build a deep bond with them. So, fewer people, more time should be your strategy.
Thanks to: Vinil Ramdev of CEO Hangout.

33. No, I Don't Want a Face Lift

Two young women approached me at a crowded networking event to compliment me on my wardrobe, and then launched into a sales pitch for a Lifestyle Lift. They'd just told a middle-aged woman she looked great from the neck down! I politely declined (twice!) explaining I was not ready for any "work" yet; they gave me a brochure and moved on to their next victim. Rule #1: don't sell. Rule #2: be authentic. Rule #3: listen to the other person. Rule #4: don't hand out cards/brochures if not requested.
Thanks to: Caryn Starr-Gates of StarrGates Business Communication.

34. The Elevator Speech from Hell!

The worst networking mistake amateurs make is creating a terrible first impression quickly with an Elevator Speech from Hell. They start by shoving a business card at you and then drone on with a rambling, long and boring list of what they do, filled with jargon you don’t understand. They deliver it with little energy, enthusiasm or eye contact. Instead of asking you questions to engage you, they quickly shift to selling mode. So, they quickly turn you off, branding themselves as idiots.
Thanks to: Phil Stella of Effective Training & Communication.

35. Woops, I Forgot My Biz Card!!!

I once went to a social networking event and did not bring my business card! Everybody at the event was exchanging their cards and saying they would be in touch. And I had nothing with me. I had no way to stay in touch. It was embarrassing, but it also taught me a lesson. Always carry business cards. I have not made that mistake since!
Thanks to: Annlyn Liu of Lifestone.

36. Disrespecting the Event

One of the biggest networking mistakes I have witnessed is not respecting the event.

If groups are sitting around tables, deeply engrossed in conversations, it’s not the best time to butt in and shower them with business cards. Also, if you are at a very informal event, don't pull out a marketing brochure.

Like every other relationship, you should aim to build rapport. Seek out common interests so that you have a basis for further dialogue.
Thanks to: Victor Clarke of Clarke, Inc.

37. Egg on Your Face

At the morning networking meeting, I was disappointed by the negative talk around my breakfast table. My tablemates discussed petty things. The bank rep complained about her office without windows. The others voiced their complaints. How would this help them get more business?

Did they think that networking was an on-stage/off-stage thing? Did they believe that breakfast conversation was "off the record”? It left a strong negative impression on me.
Thanks to: George Torok of Power Marketing.

38. Networking 101

One of the biggest mistakes at networking events is when financial advisors try to fix someone's retirement problems on the spot and give them dozens of things to do in a 60 second introduction meeting.
Thanks to: Steve Casto of Strategic Wealth Solutions.

39. Not Following Up!

I've brought home tons of business cards following networking events. Good, right? Well... only if you follow up. I've been guilty of putting the business cards on my desk and completely forgetting about them. A few weeks later, I can't remember who they are. The point in going to networking events is to build relationships. Those cards aren’t going to turn into sales or referrals by sitting on your desk!
Thanks to: Zondra Wilson of Blu Skin Care, LLC.

40. Dropping the Ball

Guilty! I've done it myself. Dropping the ball is the most common and BIGGEST mistake business networkers make. When there is NO follow up, the relationship ends before it started. It takes consistent follow up and nurturing to build rapport and the possibility of a customer relationship. Investing in networking and then failing to follow up is a waste of both time and money. Dropping the ball results in zero business.
Thanks to: Donna Price of Compass Rose Consulting, LLC.

41. Too Much Self Promotion

Sometimes, it’s easier to see others' mistakes over your own. One mistake I see is when someone can't stop talking about and promoting their business. Networking is about getting to know people, the people behind the business. We tend to feel more comfortable working with a business when we like the people behind it. If all you can talk about is your business, you are missing the opportunity to make a connection with another person which may, or may not, bring great business in the future.
Thanks to: Cindy Jones of Colorado Aromatics Cultivated.

42. Be Authentic!

The biggest networking mistake I made was by trying to be something that I wasn't. Basically, it was a situation where I oversold my knowledge and this turned into a client relationship. The punch line is that we had to part ways because I was not able to fulfill the need. Be authentic in all networking situations!
Thanks to: Rob Boirun of PopNet Media.

43. Scratching His What?

I once met a guy who sold a video conferencing app. For the next two weeks, he bombarded me with requests for a free trial run of his software. That alone was hugely annoying. But worse was that the app let you set up an avatar. His avatar was a cartoon gif of a dumpy, balding, unshaven, middle-aged guy in red-and-white-striped boxers, scratching his behind. I kid you not.

I don't remember the guy's name, but that gif of him in his boxers scratching his a** will haunt me forever.
Thanks to: Beth Carter of Clariant Creative Agency.

44. Business Card Bombs

Networking Rule #1: Don't get fancy with your business cards. Just don't.

Not too long ago, I was at a networking event and talking with a prospective partner; we had gone back and forth and realized there was a lot of overlap in what we were accomplishing. Win!

He hands me a business card (wait for it!) that was shaped as a... circle. First thought: 'I'm going to lose his business card, it's not going to fit in my small wallet'. What happened? I sure did. Lost card, lost lead. Fail.
Thanks to: Laura White of Tech Talent South.

45. Deadly Networking Mistakes

In my mind, the three biggest networking mistakes people made are:

1) They talk too much;
2) They listen too little;
3) They ask for some favor too soon.

Networking is not about you and it’s not about getting something today. It’s about finding out about the other person, perhaps even what you can do for them. In other words, it’s about building some sort of relationship, even if it’s a quick, short-term relationship, before moving into “what’s in it for me” mode.
Thanks to: Barry Maher of Barry Maher & Associates.

46. How Not to Get Hired

I attended a networking event days before my agency, Impressa Solutions, launched. I tried to strike up a conversation, but he let me know I wasn’t worth his time, nor was my “amateur” agency. Two years later at a conference, the same man tracked me down and complimented me and my agency gratuitously--he wanted to work for us! He didn’t remember meeting me, but I remembered him! As soon as he turned around, his business card was crumpled into a ball at the bottom of my handbag.
Thanks to: Julie Ewald of Julie Ewald.

47. Creepy Networking Mistake

There was a Seinfeld episode about the "close talker" who would get so close to the other person you could imagine that they could feel their breath. Huge mistake at a networking meeting. It feels like they are invading your personal space. It's creepy and they miss cues that say back off, I don't even know you. I try stepping back, but they get closer! I suggest sitting so that the chairs provide a space. Is that how they would interact with a referral I pass on?
Thanks to: Denise Levine of Outside In Organizer and Makeovers.

48. Put the Brakes On

I attend networking events on a regular basis and from my observation, the common error that I see is people coming on too strong with a new group. Case in point- last week I was at an event in Red Bank, NJ and people went around the table very casually and gave their 30 second elevator talk. No pressure.

A new attendee then went into a 20 minute sales pitch with samples, giveaways and a question and answer game.
I give him a zero chance of doing any business with that group. Way too much!
Thanks to: Robert Palidora.

49. Breathing Isn't Enough

Many times when I attend networking groups, I see other attendees pitch their target customer as 'everyone who breathes'. The goal is to be remembered as someone who stands out by having a specific customer - so don't blend into the crowd. Even if your product or service could help everyone, such as a financial planner, mentioning you help ‘newly married couples expecting their first child’ is much more detailed and that’s when people remember you.
Thanks to: Brian Sly of Emblem Media Inc.

50. Worst Networking Mistake

Some of the worst networking mistakes I’ve come across have been…

-People who try to network online only and avoid any face-to-face interaction

-Those who ask for way too much way too quickly

-Not returning the favor/saying thank you
Thanks to: Lindsey Cummins of Winq.

51. Edible Business Cards

The worst networking mistake I have ever seen is a company with edible business cards. The edible cards were unique and showcased the owner's eco-friendly business. However, I quickly ate the card and forgot the contact information.

The next day, everyone was talking about those fun business cards, but no one could seem to remember the business or owner's name... because everyone ate the information!

Unique cards are a great idea, but make sure to have a way to pass your info along.
Thanks to: Wesley Flippo of Buy The Best Drones.

52. Blow a Networking Opportunity!

During networking events many mistakes are made. To me, the worst is to not be in the moment with the person you are talking to. Looking around, interrupting and worst yet, yawning are awful. Even if you are bored to death, give the other person the respect of listening to them. Be interested and listen, it will broaden your horizons. You will hear how they do it and learn from the challenges they face.
Thanks to: Kathy McShane of Ladies Launch Club.

53. The Business Card...Drive-By?!

The worst networking mistake I have seen is the "Business Card drive by" where a guy with a computer shop quickly did “drive-by’s” handing everyone at the meeting his business card to which most just threw away. Not even an introduction!
Thanks to: Ray Higdon of Forever Wealth Club.

54. Always Take the Long View

The worst networking mistake is not taking the long view. Discounting people because they don't see an immediate value in a relationship instead of getting to know them. Even if this person isn't your client, and will never be your client, they may become your friend. Besides, the adage that people prefer to do business with people they know and like is true. And you never know who knows who.
Thanks to: Annette Richmond of career intelligence Resume Writing.

55. Not Touching Base

The worst networking mistake anyone could make is never following up. If you are attending networking events but haven't followed up with any of your new contacts, you might as well have not made any connections at all. Never wait for them to make the first move- treat each contact like a new friend and reach out them as soon as possible, before your window of opportunity has passed. A simple follow up email could go a long way in forming a lasting business relationship or partnership.
Thanks to: Adam Binder of Creative Click Media.

56. Working the Room Is a Bad Idea

The worst networking mistake I see all the time is someone who works the room. This is the person whose goal is to get his/her business card in the hand of everyone. I've even seen someone work the room and then leave before the program. They just came to pass out their cards! This isn't networking. It's littering. This does a ton of damage to that person and their reputation. No one wants to build relationships with them because it's clear they aren't interested in anyone other than themselves.
Thanks to: Diane Helbig of Seize This Day.

57. Network With the Right People

Your priority is to meet like-minded people who back up what they do and say with real words and actions. Many people talk a good game, but you want people who follow through on their word. The idea is to engage with people who have a similar win/win philosophy to business and life.
Thanks to: Alison Kero of ACK Organizing.

58. Align Image With Your Brand

A woman I met told me she's in the beauty industry, but business was not good. I thought, "It's because your image doesn't align with your brand!"

Her hair hung straight, unstyled, and the colors looked striped. She wore no makeup. The shape, color, style, and pattern of her clothes were not flattering on her apple-shaped body. Her outer appearance did not represent that of a competent salon owner.

Visual image sends an immediate nonverbal message. Don't neglect your appearance at events.
Thanks to: Marian Rothschild of Look Good Now Image Consulting.

59. Build a Relationship First

The worst mistake I see, and it happens all too often, is when a networker says little more than hello before thrusting their card into your hand. Then they say, “Call me if you need my services,” and walk away. It’s akin to just meeting someone, trying to kiss them and saying, “Call me if you want to go on a date."
Thanks to: Peter George of Be the Obvious Choice.

60. Networking Without Strategy

A mistake business owners make is networking without a strategy. As with all things business, know what the time / money invested in networking will return to you personally or professionally. A number of business owners network aimlessly, with minimal focus, and see no return. It's OK that the expectation is to help others before helping oneself, but a plan is necessary to ensure what you're doing will serve you in the long run.
Thanks to: George Rathman of The Alternative Board.

61. Photogenic Much?

We've had guests at our events stalk the photographer and ask for a photo with each new person they met. And then, when not all of those photos get posted on our social media outlets, we get upset emails from those guests...
Thanks to: Emily Goethel of 6 Degrees Business Networking.

62. Networking is About People

I went to a networking event and was told I would get 25 leads from the group. I enjoy getting to know people, so I gladly accepted the invitation. When I got there, I saw so many people, all with interesting stories that I never got to hear. I was immediately taken by the arm, paraded through various groups with an explanation of "our deal". Instead of building relationships, I ended up with a stack of worthless business cards. Networking is much more than building a list; it's personal.
Thanks to: Jen Teague of Jen Teague, LLC.

63. Connect, Converse... Contact?

The worst mistake I see professionals make at networking events is not following up with an email or on LinkedIn.

After the mingling is over, people have a tendency to sit on the business cards they’ve collected. However, forming a consistent habit of sending thank you emails or connecting on LinkedIn pay dividends in the long-run. Following up puts your name at the top of people’s minds after the event, which makes it easier for your contact to remember you in the future.
Thanks to: Kelvin Jiang of Buyside Focus.

64. Manage Your Food!

A lot of networking events happen after working hours and it is understandable that you get a bit peckish. But unless you are a very patient and well-educated eater, you're better off not talking and eating at the same time. I've seen one too many times people having to dodge missiles or move away disgusted!
If you are hungry, go straight away to the buffet, eat a couple of things as quickly as possible, get a drink and then go and mingle.
Thanks to: Federico Cucchi of My Beauty Matches.

65. Business Card Etiquette

Never give someone a business card unless they ask for it. This allows you to focus on the person in front of you and to ask many questions to better understand them, their needs, wants, etc. It's a chance to give your card to people who are actually interested in taking the conversation further. By asking questions and listening intently to what people have to say about themselves, makes people feel like you truly value what is being said, which in turn makes them feel good about your interaction.
Thanks to: Stephanie Chung of Stephanie Chung and Associates.

66. Preaching to the Converted

An accountant friend who is in the 80s decided to teach his friends how to read a balance sheet and profit and loss accountant, forgetting that once retired, who looks at a balance sheet? He should rather have pitched his lessons to the grandchildren of his friends; grandchildren who are only now moving into the business world.
Thanks to: Jacob Singer of Jacobashersinger.com.

67. Pin Ball Machine

I see SO many people come to a networking event and just start handing out business cards, bouncing off every warm body like a pin ball, without asking anything at all about the potential prospect. I suspect they think that the more cards they collect, the better they've done. I'd rather spend time with a few people, make a bit of a relationship, THEN follow up. I don't think anybody likes being bounced off!
Thanks to: Barbara Kaberna of Barbara Feeds Kids.

68. Shut Up and Listen!

Sure, you attend networking functions to share your business with others. And I want to hear about it, in about 30 seconds.

Inexperienced networkers talk all about them, their product/service, their company, their team, etc. These are one-way conversations and they are boring (and annoying too!).

Just tell me who you are, company name, the product/service and why it is a better solution than others. Now score points and make a real contact by asking "So, tell me about you". Then listen!
Thanks to: Jim Froling of (949) Local Internet Marketing.

69. What's Your Exit Strategy?

The biggest mistake made at a networking event is not knowing when and how to bail out of a conversation. This occurs when another person is talking at you or trying to sell you something that you do not want. I’ve seen people get ‘trapped’ and want to bail, but are afraid of offending or hurting the other person's feelings.
Thanks to: Evan Leepson, MBA of Leepson Associates.

70. Big Gaffes/Small Biz Settings

Networking your way into small business situations can be very tricky; all it takes is one gaffe and everyone in the circle knows.

Imagine the example of a candidate who didn't bother to do her homework and uncover the close (yet troubled) family relationships between several formerly-related business operations. When trying to impress the one organization with which she was networking, she relied on and embellished her close ties to the other group, leaving BOTH feeling like she was a spy!
Thanks to: Cheryl Heisler of Lawternatives.

71. Name Game

One of the biggest, or at least most uncomfortable, mistakes I ever made in networking was mixing up two ladies names the entire meeting. Yes, I called Cindy Cathy and Cathy Cindy the entire meeting. You might think this is common or easy to do, but for me it isn’t. You see, I’m the moderator for a women’s networking group that meets every month and these ladies have been coming regularly for quite some time, they are both clients of mine, and we network together often elsewhere.
Thanks to: Laura Templeton of 30 Second Success.

72. Follow Up W/ Valuable Content

Typically, people have a hard time remembering everybody they met. To stand out, hand out business cards with your portrait and follow up with an email within 48 hrs. Refer to something you talked about and offer some valuable content like for instance, a blog you have written, to spark more interest.

Always keep in mind, "many people talk, but only few follow up with an email."
Thanks to: Gisela Hausmann of email evangelist Gisela Hausmann.

73. Oops! Who R You? We Met Where?

One of the most embarrassing things I’ve done is that, after attending several networking events, I forgot to record the date/time on the back of the business cards I collected and then could not remember who I met where. It made for awkward follow up conversations. Lesson learned: Always record the ‘where/when’ for follow-up; and then be sure to follow up. A key to successful networking is having follow up conversations with the new contacts, not just collecting their business cards.
Thanks to: Mary Anne Kochut of Champions for Success, LLC.

74. Don't Lead With Your Biz Card

Hard to believe, but no one actually wants your business card. So, rather than start fanning them out like a Vegas casino dealer, it's far better to connect first and be interested in what the other person does. The only real point of a business card is so that someone can get in touch with you again. You need to earn that interest. And you know how it's time to give it to them? Because they ask for it.
Thanks to: Terri Trespicio of Co-creator of Lights Camera Expert.

Do you know any networking mistakes to avoid? Please share your thoughts below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

And if you would like to become a part of the CarolRoth.com contributor network and find out about opportunities to contribute to future articles, sign up here: http://www.carolroth.com/carolroth-com-blog-contributor-sign-up/

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett (Shark Tank, The Voice, Survivor, The Apprentice) produced technology competition series, America's Greatest Makers, airing on TBS and Host of Microsoft's Office Small Business Academy show. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a contributor to CNBC, as well as a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011-2015) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth