Attending a networking event or industry night for the first time can be a daunting experience and you don’t always know what to expect of it or how to conduct yourself. If you go about it in the right way, these events can be valuable for making useful new contacts; however go about it in the wrong way and you’re at risk of making yourself look a bit silly.
For some tips on how to network effectively, you can seek advice from our article on how to power up your networking skills, however to be sure you don’t come across as awkward or make others cringe, I suggest you avoid doing these things:
1) DON’T talk too much:
Rabbiting on and on about yourself is likely to bore people and networking really should be a two way exchange. Show genuine interest in other people, take the time to ask them questions and listen attentively to what they have to say.
2) DON’T be a loner:
Approaching new people can be nerve racking, but you’re not going to gain anything from the event if you spend the time wandering around by yourself. Bite the bullet and spark up some conversations with other attendees. It’ll get easier with practice, I promise!
3) DON’t be a stalker:
If you’re new to networking, you may be tempted to latch on to someone you know for moral support. But do try to reach out to other people too or you’re at risk of following them around like a lost puppy, which may not be entirely appreciated.
4) DON’T interrupt:
You may have something MEGA interesting to say, that you feel just can’t wait to be shared, but think about how you feel when someone interrupts you. Annoying right? Listen patiently and intently to what the other person has to say and in turn they will hopefully do the same for you.
5) DON’T discuss inappropriate topics:
It’s a professional event, so try to stay on track and maintain a professional tone in your conversations. People don’t want to hear about the hot date you’ve got on Friday or your pregnant dog, trust me!
6) DON’T dress down:
People will make a first impression built on your appearance, so make sure you dress smartly and give off a positive representation of yourself. You may well be heading for a session in the gym afterwards, but this doesn’t mean you should rock up at the event in your workout kit! At the same time, you don’t want to look like you’re about to hit the town either.
7) DON’T get drunk:
A bit of Dutch courage is fine, but don’t go overboard. I think it’s fair to say any good new contacts you’ve made will soon be lost if you start dancing on the table or staggering around the room causing calamity.
8) DON’T be a business card spammer:
Don’t just deal out your business cards willy nilly. No offence, but not everyone will want it and it’s likely to get thrown in the bin in that case. Get to know someone first and once a connection has been properly made you can take the next step of offering them your card.
9) DON’T sell hard:
Networking events are about forming relationships and getting to know people. As tempting as it may be to use the opportunity to sell your products, it is not the time or place to do so and follow up meetings can be arranged for this, once a connection has been made.
10) DON’T be a brown noser:
Sure, everyone enjoys receiving a compliment or two, but there is a line to be crossed when it goes from being friendly to you coming across as a suck up. You may think it will gain you a few brownie points, but in reality employers will see right through these throw away comments.