What Not To Do When Networking & Meeting People

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Networking is a crucial component for the success of a business and your career. Learn what to do and what not to do when networking and meeting people!

Does the idea of professional networking make you cringe? That’s understandable. It’s intimidating for so many reasons. Networking isn’t exactly business and it isn’t exactly social. It requires a hybrid of skills which don’t come naturally to many people. It’s probably not in your job description, but it can be crucial to your long-term business and professional survival. Networking is intimidating, but it’s a powerful key to success, so it’s best to have a plan to keep you on track.

If you feel comfortable with your networking skills, you’ve probably already figured out how to work your way through a few hours of intense on-call interactions. You most likely have a basic networking to-do list: a warm smile, a firm handshake, plenty of business cards. But you also need a NOT-to-do list of networking tips to keep from derailing your efforts. Here are a few to consider.

Don’t Treat Networking Like A Cocktail Party

Networking is work, which is probably why it’s called networking instead of netplaying. Whether you’re attending a formal event or making informal connections along the way, remember that you’re “on” from the moment you step in the door. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do in the office.

You are your company. Whatever you do and however you present yourself will have a negative or positive impact on your future. So wear your warmest smile, shake those hands, and if you’re going to drink limit yourself to one or at most two drinks, even if others are drinking more. Otherwise, you risk coming across as a liability and as being unreliable.

Don’t “Work” The Room

Networking can be exciting. A gathering of like-minded professionals can inspire you to work the room – introducing yourself to anyone who looks your way, dropping a business card into every open palm. But don’t do it. You’ll come across as desperate, or greedy, or even lost.

When you take the extra time and effort to network, you should try for meaningful connections. Think quality, not quantity. Exchange information. Talk about the possibilities of future interactions. Give each contact an idea of who you are and who you represent, not just a quick shout-out before you move on to the next victim.

Don’t Treat Networking Like A Job Interview

If you approach networking like a job interview and it’s not working for you, try handling it like a romance instead. Just like a new love interest, your potential networking contact will zone out if your conversation is all about me, me, me. If a person takes the time to listen to you, they’ll probably want to share their thoughts as well. So listen, actively listen to them.

It’s important to slip into a brief “this is what I do…” You really should get the basic information out there; but before you take it too far, look for verbal and physical cues that reveal if the person is really interested. Try for an even balance of talking and listening, and when the time is right, remember to exchange contact information for a future rendezvous.

Networking Isn’t Easy

Networking can help you build a business or thrive in a career, but there’s no easy way to do it. You have to learn from on-the-job training. It will take some effort, but the business and professional contacts you make will pay off in the long run.


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