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How to Not Be Invited Back to a Networking Event

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Michael Goldberg

Ever get invited to a "by invitation only" networking event or meeting?
If so, it means that someone that's an approved attendee or member thinks pretty highly of you.
Well, they might think highly of you. Depending on who they are and why they're inviting you. Come to think of it, they may not think highly of you at all. But I guess that's a much different conversation.
Anyway, let's just pretend for a moment that you've been invited to a high level networking event where all attendees require a formal invitation. And you've been approved!
The last thing you want to do is attend the meeting and mess up. This only makes you look bad while making the person inviting you look worse. Not good.
Naturally, when you make a great impression at a meeting, everyone wins. Then, you get invited back! Then it's your turn to invite someone you think highly of. And so on.
2015-10-13-1444758442-3152706-businessnetworkingtips_wewantyou_640x480.jpg © Provided by The Huffington Post 2015-10-13-1444758442-3152706-businessnetworkingtips_wewantyou_640x480.jpg
If you're a financial advisor, rep, or broker, and you're a valued regular attendee at a networking meeting or group, that's probably saying something. Why? Because there are a lot of financial professionals that 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 they don't all get invited back.
Here are a few business networking tips for how NOT to get another invitation.
Add Everyone You Meet to Your Newsletter or Blog
At the very beginning of our meeting, we actually discuss this guideline as it's a big issue. But sure enough, someone adds someone else (without permission) to their newsletter and away they go! Then we have to deal with it. 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. Unsubscribe.
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, email, or whatever. Permission marketing, baby! (By the way, if you're receiving this blog and you didn't subscribe, you know what I mean.)
Assume All Attendees Are Your Prospects
This is another guideline that we discuss at the beginning of our networking meetings and it's an approach 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're probably not. Besides, assuming they are will only make you look like a novice networker. A prospect is someone that knows you, or knows of you, and is interested in becoming your client at some point. And you know this because they told you. If this isn't the case, then they're not!
Only Talk about Yourself
I know plenty of people (including friends and relatives) that spend most of the "conversation" talking about themselves. It's annoying and draining. Who wants to spend time talking to people that only rave about their own accomplishments? Unsubscribe.
If this has never happened to you, it's you! I'm just saying.
Be mindful of what you're saying and how you're saying it. Makes sure when you're talking to people that you're asking good questions about them and that you get equal air time and bragging rights. Otherwise you might be talking to yourself.
Be Reluctant to Help Others
The purpose of networking is to meet people, learn and, if you like them, help them. The premise? If you help enough great people, they'll help you right back. Then stay in touch, continue to help each other, rinse and repeat. That's how it works. You don't have to try and help everyone you meet, just the ones you really like. Some professions lend themselves to helping others and some don't, so keep this in mind.
Remember, those you meet are looking to accomplish something too - to grow their business. Figure out ways to help them and see what happens! If you don't try to help key people accomplish their goals, you might be hard pressed accomplishing yours.
Lack Professionalism and Respect
This one should be obvious but it's not. Even at high level meetings. Every now and then, a businessman says something flirtatious or condescending to a businesswoman. Or vice versa. I've been privy to numerous situations that I can't even go into here - both business and non-business. As an adult, what you do and say is your own deal. Believe me, I like to have my share of fun too. Just be smart. People talk. And everything gets tweeted, posted, and blogged. One of the fastest ways to not get invited back to an event or to be the topic of conversation is to say something stupid or unprofessional. I've got stories.
Don't Follow Up on Promises
Not following up is the kryptonite to networking. I've botched this one up myself but it's from lack of writing it down rather than lack of intention. Follow through on all promises within 24 hours and you'll look like a hero! In fact, bring a few index cards with you when you attend events or meetings. As you meet people and make promises, jot them down on your cards. When you get home or back to the office, you'll have your notes handy. Of course, you can always post your follow up notes on your handheld device or send an email to yourself but taking actual notes works best for me. Besides, when you're meeting people and actually taking notes about your intentions, they seem impressed. In fact, often enough, they ask me for index cards so they can follow suit.
Fail to Invite Quality Attendees to Future Meetings
If you're good enough or lucky enough to be invited back to a meeting, you'll be asked (or expected) to invite others and pay the whole thing forward. Remember, you're only as good as those you invite. If you know quality people that can benefit from an invite and they can make themselves (and hence you) look good, by all means invite them. But make sure their attitude and behavior reflect yours and maybe some of the ideas being discussed here. Otherwise, you could be in an awkward position with friends and colleagues. More importantly, are they the right friends and colleagues?
I'm sure there are plenty of other things you can do to be tossed out of a networking meeting, chapter, club, or event but the points above should at least get you back to the next meeting.
Even if you attend events that don't require an invitation (pay as you play) or you do most of your networking online, these guidelines will still help you meet quality people (if you're into that sort of thing) or simply have others want to talk to you.
Of course, you could just add them to your newsletter.

NETWORKING © Martin Barraud via Getty Images NETWORKING

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