From networking events, holiday office parties, to social networking sites, opportunities to “meet” new connections abound. Exactly how do you make the most of every introduction? Let’s start with what not to do. Whether you associate the “seven deadly sins” with medieval religious teachings or modern-day entertainment, they can be applied here to build your reputation and your business. Be sure to avoid these seven deadly networking sins:
If you don’t believe in you, who will? Self-promotion requires tact. Toot your horn too often or too loudly and all you can expect is a wave of unreturned messages and deleted connections. People are attracted to authenticity. Crafting a false image is a turnoff to all.
Solution: Share your accomplishments and the spotlight with those who contributed to your success. You might even score bonus exposure by reaching beyond your network.
If your concerns are your only concerns, why should others care about you? But when you seek to meet others’ needs and do a great job, they’ll be more inclined to reciprocate. Reversing that sequence will surely prevent it.
Solution: Focus your messages and offerings on the interests and needs of your audience, not what you’re looking to promote.
If you’re too eager or lusting after the attention of others, your otherwise professional efforts can lead to a very unprofessional reputation. Nobody invites crossing the line of acceptable and professional efforts with that of becoming a pest revealing personal cravings over that of the other’s needs.
Solution: You can’t force someone to reciprocate. Do what you said you’d do or send what you promised and let the rest happen naturally.
If you read a comment with unintended sarcasm or interpret a short missive as an angry one, you might be tempted to reciprocate in kind. The power of a smile and laughter can produce priceless and ever-expanding opportunities, but the consequences of discourtesy are immediately and potentially irreversibly destructive.
Solution: Consider communication carefully. Responding in anger can destroy your reputation and your relationships.
If you’re sending mass relationship-building emails or group texts in an effort to save yourself time and effort, you risk losing the opportunity for the gesture to be regarded as sincere and to be taken seriously. By default, “mass” is mutually exclusive of “personal.”
Solution: Balance group messages by inviting personal responses of interest. Or, better, communicate one-on-one whenever possible.
If you’re building yourself up at the expense of others by putting them down, your need for the spotlight will backfire. Don’t focus on what others have or the connections others have made. Set your own relationship goals based on what you have to offer your network, not what you seek to gain from them.
Solution: Congratulate others on their successes instead of stewing on what you haven’t yet accomplished.
If your efforts to connect or stay in touch border on the apathetic, you need to shape up, perhaps in more ways than one. A lack of drive and determination to “exercise” meaningful connections and capitalize on opportunities will only result in relationship atrophy.
Solution: Schedule regular communication and be sure to engage when opportunity presents–most certainly at holiday office parties and social gatherings. It may be drudgery as the start of any exercise regimen can be, but positive results will prove worth the time and effort.
Each and every one of these sins is easy to fall prey to but just as easy to avoid. However, it does take conscious thought, determined actions, and purpose of focus toward others to realize optimal relationship value that rewards all parties all the time.
What is ultimately at stake here is development of your personal brand. Fundamentally, there is no value in being unlikable. Generally speaking, the complete antidote to the seven deadly sins is nothing more than simply being nice to all people all the time. In fact, some relationship experts estimated that simply being nice can result in a 30 to 40% increase in success over those people and/or companies that are not nice. Who ever thought that simply being nice could in fact be the very thing that completely sets you apart and distinct from everyone else, and helps pave your road to success?
Short form bio for bylines:
CRM pioneer Mike Muhney, the co-creator of ACT! software (credited as the catalyst for the “customer relationship management” industry), is CEO of mobile relationship management purveyor vipOrbit—the first relationship-centric contact manager solution enabling mobile business professionals to manage their contacts, calendar and client/customer interactions across Mac, iPhone and iPad platforms. He may be reached at www.VIPOrbit.com.