People poured in, chatting noisily, grabbing a drink and breaking into small groups in different corners of the room of their networking meeting. Then, like a shot of neat vodka in my throat, it hit.

It was the same every week. Same groups, conversations and even the same corners. Have you seen that at networking meetings? If not stop and watch, you’ll see how we are creatures of habit. Habits are great shortcuts, and your habits got you to where you are now.

A business networking meeting, full of people with their habits (good, and bad)

That’s OK, unless you want to improve the results you get from your networking meetings. In which case it’s time to change your networking habits.

Which of these networking habits do you often see?

You might see these, you might even do them – watch out.

  • Chatting to the same people each time. They may be your best referral sources. You should catch up, but how could you shake it up a little?
  • Sitting in the same place each time. Habits are odd things, little actions can help you break them. Shake it up; sit somewhere different, every week.
  • Arriving late (no, make that leave home late, again). You’ve met the ones who always arrive late and moan about the traffic? Is it time to leave earlier and respect  those in the room with you?
  • Treating the event as if it were just social. It’s important to have some fun. But if you want business, how will you turn social into business chat? Read 2 unusual but powerful conversation starters (and why they work)
  • Not thinking about your “one minute” and staggering through it. We’ve all seen them! They think so little of the opportunity then make it up as they speak and lose the plot. It gets a laugh, but is that what you really want to be known as?
  • Repeating the same “one minute” each week. You’ve heard it before and ignored it many times! Try adding a slightly different ending, or beginning. That might make you listen to the others too. Download our 60 second template, it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.
  • Ignoring new people (especially bad if you’re one of the new people). I believe  networking groups are not needed to be a good networker. However, if you going then surely the reason is to meet new people? How about making a new habit to talk to one new person on your first drink of the meeting?
  • Get fed up with many others in the room. People have admitted this to me and it’s dangerous. Either change your group or change your thinking, lest this comes back to bite. Try looking for one positive in each person, and talking to them about it.

To get more from your networking meetings, download “How to get the most out of a networking group”, [scLibrarylink]

positive habits to develop and improve your networking meetings

Small changes add up

I was recently unfortunate enough to damage a ligament in my ankle (yes it hurt). It dawned on me that each element of the things my physiotherapist asked me to do were useful in more than just the obvious way!

Strapping my ankle, not only provided support, it also reminded me to change my walking habit. The crutch provided support, but also ensured I didn’t pick up heavy items and twist my leg. The point is that there were small things nudging me to change habit. What’s more, when added together the collection of small elements were even more powerful at “nudging me”.

What will remind you to change?

The real question is: what habit do you need to change and what will help nudge you? Small nudges that remind and help you to create a new habit can be powerful.

Creating mini habits and nudges

Nothing will change unless you make a regular change, sometimes we need a little reminder – like the proverbial knotted handkerchief. Try one of these, or add a comment for one you’ll implement.

  • Drink a glass of water, after your first coffee. Use it to remind you to do one of the new habits you want.
  • Leave five minutes earlier (or stay five minutes later), use that time to speak to one new person.
  • Walk around the car park twice before entering the meeting, use that time to plan what one different thing you’ll say today.
  • Have a really nice coffee (tea, or whatever your poison) when you return to the office. But don’t turn your PC on until you finish it. Use that time to write an action point on each card you collected at the meeting. Then email them (when you turn the PC on). Download our simple guide to Follow up emails, it's free and waiting for you right now in our JoinedUp Networking toolkit. This toolkit is a resource library stuffed with goodies to help you get better results from your networking (email address required). Click here to download it.

What networking habits do you need to change and how will you remind yourself to change them?

Written by Jon Baker The 5-50 Coach. I help professionals grow their firms from 5 to 50 employees, sustainably, profitably and still have fun. Networking is a key part of getting great results in small firms. If you want great networking tips sent to your desk once a month, click here and I will start sending them to you, so you can make a real difference to your referrals. 

Download “How to get the most out of a networking group”, [scLibrarylink]