If you’ve ever been to networking events you’ve probably experienced at least one ‘bad networker’. You all know the type, they corner you, start their pitch, and don’t let you go until they get a name, number, and promise you’ll call. The reality is, you’re never going to be able to avoid awkward networking situations entirely, but you can take steps to make sure that you aren’t that person.
In this post we’ll outline some of the major networking event don’ts that you should avoid at all costs. By avoiding these all too common mistakes, you’ll be focused and better capitalize on the limited face time.
Don’t go to networking events with friends.
In many situations, people are nervous about attending networking events. These nerves lead them to rely on a friend to get them through the event. This would all be fine except for 9 time out of 10, they then spend the whole event talking with their friend.
As much as possible, you should try to attend networking events on your own. This will force you to branch out, meet new people, and build better connections with the other guests.
Don’t interrupt. Ever.
Have you ever been interrupted? Didn’t feel good did it? The last thing you want is someone thinking of you when they’re asked those same questions.
Actively and patiently listening during conversations helps to communicate that you respect others and are willing to give them your attention. People can tell if your listening or just waiting for your turn to talk, so be engaged, be patient, and be involved in the conversation.
Don’t be a card spammer.
In general, it’s never a good strategy to network by handing out your card too quickly (unless you want those cards to end up in the trash bin). Instead, try to build a rapport with someone and push for a future meeting. Once they’re engaged, you can focus on exchanging contact details.
Don’t be subtle.
In a space with a lot of people, you may be nervous to step up and accomplish what you came for. But the truth is, if you’re subtle you’ll probably be forgotten.
Try to think of it from the other side; when people are clear with you and say exactly what they want, you know if you can help and remember them. If they try to be subtle, you don’t know if you can help and will lose interest quickly.
At networking events time is precious so get to the point quickly, trust us, whoever your talking with will appreciate every minute saved.
Don’t focus solely on the speakers.
Speakers get a lot of attention at networking events, but many times the people who can offer you the most are not on the stage.
Don’t ignore the people sitting next to you, they might be the exact connection you’ve been looking for (and they’re probably a lot more accessible.)
Don’t forget to follow up.
Like everyone at the event, you’ll probably be swamped with new contacts after all is said and done. If you’re looking to stand out, be sure to send a follow-up email or even a call.
Just make sure that you don’t turn into a stalker; if you don’t hear back right away, give it some time before a second follow-up.
Do you have any networking advise? Be sure to share your experiences in the comments below! And if you’re looking for more great tips, why not check out our post on how to maintain your LinkedIn profile.