Show of hands: how many people attend networking events? Do you walk in confidently with cards blazing or are you pulled in kicking and screaming? If you think it’s just a business card grab, read on friends…
FIVE EXAMPLES OF BAD NETWORKING
- If you have not allowed the person you’re speaking with to actually speak in the last 60 seconds, you’re not networking, you’re monologing. Unless your name is Hamlet, quit it! There are few things as frustrating as someone who will not shut up about herself and asks you nothing. I once was “captured” by a chiropractor who spoke for 15 minutes straight and kept a death grip on my arm so I couldn’t leave. Keep in mind, it actually isn’t all about you
- You dismiss someone after they tell you what they do because it’s not useful or interesting to you. Frankly, this is just rude and belies the actual point of networking, which is to connect and exchange information. Just because this person’s skill set or company may not directly pertain to you, doesn’t mean the connection is valueless. Perhaps you know someone to whom you can connect them. Spin the web, baby – it’s the whole point.
- You spend most of the time at an event standing in a corner, talking to the friend you came with. (Shaking head sadly). Not too many people LOVE networking but most business people do grow to not mind it so much and some actually enjoy it (yours truly). If you have performance anxiety about speaking with strangers, do something about it. Spend time rehearsing your elevator pitch, learn some calming breathing techniques, register for a class in business communications (I know a GREAT one!). Get out of your safe zone and make yourself a little uncomfortable. Networking skills are like muscles: you have to actually use them for them to become well defined.
- You’re there for the free food and booze. First, the food is generally not very good at these events and second, the booze is always watered down. If you’re not there to meet people and to engage, don’t go. There are few things worse than a handsy, half-drunk guy with imitation crab on his tie who has locked in on you because you inadvertently wore the colors of his favorite football team. Who knew teal and orange could be so troublesome?
- You are only talking to people you already know. If this is you, you’re missing the point completely. It’s NETworking. Cast your net, make contact, create connections. Strive to meet three new people at each event. It’s a very attainable goal and it allows you to spend quality time with each person giving and receiving information. Three solid contacts, regardless of whether or not you can do business with them, is a successful event.
LB Adams is the Owner of Pragmatic Dramatics based out of Charleston SC. Her company uses basic acting techniques and theatre games to train business professionals to communicate more effectively.