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Posted on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Lack of preparation in networking means opportunities lost

By Greg Peters


Photo by Albert Bridge

I think we've covered my lack of perfection in sufficient depth that we all know that I can occasionally be used as an example of what not to do when it comes to networking. Last Monday morning would be a case in point.

But what can you expect from a Monday?

My good friend and sales coach, Joe Marr of Sandler Sales Ann Arbor, had invited me to attend a session on negotiating at 10 a.m. on Monday morning. Ten in the morning? Great! That means I don't have to prepare my networking toolkit the night before. After all, 10 a.m. is so late in the morning that I should be able to take care of everything after a good night's sleep.

Please note the horribly flawed assumption in the previous paragraph.

Sure enough, we had a "complicated" evening on Sunday night (these happen with 3 year olds occasionally) which led to me oversleeping until after 9 a.m. You can imagine what happened next.

I was flying around the house, trying to get showered and shaved, searching out my networking outfit, looking for my materials, not finding my materials, and so on, and so on.

So, what was the end result?

  • I was rushed. Rushing around creates a lot of stress. I was off balance and not in my best networking frame of mind.

  • I was on time. Barely. Now, some would think that this was OK, but what this actually meant was that I arrived just in time for the presentation and had no time for networking.

  • I missed chatting with the organizers. Other than a quick hello, I didn't get to talk with either Joe or his partner, Mike Wynn. Joe and Mike serve pretty much the same target market as I do and we don't really compete. That means we can easily refer business to each other. Fortunately, we already have a pretty good relationship, but it never hurts to touch base periodically.

  • I missed networking with my target market. As I mentioned, Joe and Mike serve pretty much the same target market as I do. That means that the rest of the packed room probably fell into my target market. Now, I didn't think I was going to walk out with a signed contract or anything, but networking with our target market is always a good idea — assuming we get there in time to do so.

  • I didn't have my materials. I couldn't find my business card holder. I forgot my pen and notebook. I didn't have my watch. I even forgot my cell phone which has my calendar for scheduling coffees and lunches on the spot. Have you had that dream when you walk into a classroom and realize that they're having an exam and you didn't go to class? That's pretty much how I was feeling.

So, here's my recommendation. Each evening, before you close up shop (whenever that is for you), look through tomorrow's schedule. If you have any sort of networking going on, pretend it starts at 6 a.m. and prepare accordingly. Fortunately for me, I've got two more opportunities to make connections during this negotiating workshop.

And you can bet I'll be making preparations the night before.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to