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6 Differences Between Good and Bad Networking

Let’s admit it, we all need networking, but most of us business owners don’t like it. That said, I learned that when a networking event is productive and you find the right people to connect with, it can be fun. Yes, fun. 

The thing is that time is a precious resource for entrepreneurs, and it's essential to make every networking interaction count. Let’s explore six key aspects that differentiate good networking from bad networking, with a focus on the value of time and the art of creating win-win situations. And there is a bonus at the end!


1. Purposeful engagement:

Good networking: 

Before attending an event, define your objectives. Are you looking for potential clients, partners, or industry insights? This clarity will guide your interactions and help you filter through the crowd more efficiently.

Bad networking: 

Aimless interactions without a clear purpose can lead to wasted time. Engaging with everyone without discernment may dilute the quality of your connections.

2. A win-win mindset:

Good networking: 

Approach every interaction with the mindset of creating mutual benefits. Seek opportunities where both parties can contribute and gain value. It's not just about what you can get; it's about what you can offer as well, and the combination of the two is important.

Bad networking: 

If the conversation feels one-sided or solely focused on personal gain, it's likely not a productive interaction. Move on to someone who shares a mutual interest in creating a win-win situation.

3. Effective communication:

Good networking: 

Be a good listener and communicator. Ask open-ended questions (refer to the end of this article for examples) that encourage meaningful conversations. Show genuine interest in the other person's business and challenges. This builds rapport and fosters a more productive relationship.

Bad networking: 

Monopolizing the conversation or being disinterested in the other person's input can create a negative impression. Networking is a two-way street, and effective communication is key to establishing meaningful connections.

4. Actionable follow-ups (my favorite part):

Good networking: 

End conversations with clear next steps. One or two steps are enough. Whether it's scheduling a follow-up meeting, exchanging contact information, or discussing a potential collaboration, setting actionable items ensures that the connection doesn't end at the networking event.

Bad networking: 

Leaving conversations open-ended without a plan for future engagement can lead to missed opportunities. Take the initiative to follow up promptly to maintain momentum.

5. Quality over Quantity:

Good networking: 

Just like a mailing list, it’s not about how many business cards you collect but the quality of connections you establish. Invest time in meaningful conversations rather than trying to meet as many people as possible. Building a few strong connections is more valuable than a multitude of superficial ones.

Bad networking: 

Chasing quantity over quality can result in a network filled with contacts who may not contribute significantly to your goals. Prioritize depth in your connections for long-term success.

6. Respecting time constraints:

Good networking: 

Respect the time constraints of others and be mindful of your own. If a conversation is not aligning with your objectives, gracefully transition to the next person. Similarly, if someone is in a hurry, be concise and schedule a follow-up when both parties can dedicate more time.

Bad networking: 

Ignoring time constraints, either yours or those of others, can lead to unproductive interactions. Being respectful of time shows professionalism and enhances the likelihood of future collaborations.

Key takeaway:  Good networking is all about mutual benefits, time management, and action items. If you create win-win situations, respect your and others’ time, and create effective action items to take the conversation to the next step after the networking event, you are doing one of the best things you could do for your business's future. Remember: The goal is not just to gather information but to foster a genuine connection by showing interest in the other person's experiences and insights. Tailor these questions based on the context of the event and the individual you're engaging with, and let the conversation flow organically.

Bonus: 18 Best questions to start a conversation and build trust with a business owner:

  1. What inspired you to start your own business?

  2. How do you navigate the current challenges in our industry?

  3. Can you share a recent success story or achievement you are proud of?

  4. What trends do you see shaping the future of our industry?

  5. How do you stay updated and informed about the latest developments in your field?

  6. In your experience, what has been the most effective marketing strategy for your business?

  7. 7. What key lessons have you learned from your entrepreneurial journey so far?

  8. How do you balance work and personal life as a business owner?

  9. Are there any specific tools or technologies that have significantly benefited your business operations?

  10. Can you recommend a book or resource that has had a profound impact on your professional growth?

  11. How do you approach building and leading a successful team?

  12. In your opinion, what qualities make a business stand out in a competitive market?

  13. What challenges do you foresee in the industry, and how do you plan to overcome them?

  14. How do you foster innovation within your company?

  15. What networking events or platforms have you found most beneficial for making meaningful connections?

  16. Can you share a valuable piece of advice you received early in your career that still resonates with you today?

  17. What initiatives or projects are you currently excited about in your business?

  18. How can others in the industry support you or collaborate with your business?


Want to meet with Yahel Demeter for a free Business Coaching Session? Click here to book it and get practical action items to elevate your business:


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