What to do and not to do at a networking mixer event?
Networking became a big part of every professional life, especially if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Whether you are looking for a job at a new startup, interested in growing your business or just move to the city and you are looking to make new friends, you’ve probably been told to attend network events in your area. Networking is not about showing up and enjoying the free drinks and snacks. It is neither about starting a collection of different and colorful business cards. It’s about meeting interesting people, creating long lasting connection by sharing who you are and what you do.
We organize over 50 events every years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two to three events each months and here is our list of advice on what to do and not to do when you are attending a networking event.
- Bring business cards: Connecting on LinkedIn is cool but it isn’t going to help people remember you or your bring. Use a business card.
- Dress code: Dress accordingly. In the San Francisco Bay Area professionals are often in business casual but if you are going to a financial corporate event…you might want to leave the sneakers home and where a more appropriate outfit.
- First Impression: The first impression counts, so introduce yourself smiling, state your name clearly and avoid the typical predictable questions like “What do you do?” We prefer when attendees ask us things like “What brought you to this event”? Or “ Where do you live”? Or something that is not standard.
- It is not a question of number: The goal of networking is to create a connection and find the one thing you have in common. You don’t have to meet everyone in the room but aim to be the one-person people will remember talking to. Who knows…you might be talking to your next employer or business partner
- Keep in touch: Did you meet anyone that you’d like to continue networking with? Remember that one thing you had in common? This is a great opportunity to reach out. Check in after the event with people you connected with and mention that one thing-connecting hook. You are now connected and remembered. Did you know that 80% of people do not send Follow Up emails?
Not To-Do List:
- Avoid selling: Whether it is about your personal brand or your company brand, do not try to sell. Listen, offer something to your contacts and they’ll be more likely to help and connect. Do not hand out flyers to every person or pull out your Ipad to demo your product. Events are also not the place to be recruiting people or asking for money, if you meet people you think are a good fit, tell them you will follow up with them.
- Avoid the standard questions: “What’s your name? Where are you from? Where do you live? What company do you work for? What do you do?” Instead of these overrated questions, try to ask about their favorite restaurant or if they have been to other similar events.
- Do not flirt: Even though you are very awesome and in a bar or a social club, flirting in a professional setting is not appropriate. It’s often not the right time or place. Furthermore, you are damaging your personal brand and company brand by doing so.
- Don’t say anything negative: You don’t like your current managers or co-workers? It happens, just don’t talk about it. The world is a small place and you might be perceived as a negative person.
- Don’t stay with only one person: It’s obvious but sometimes we get comfortable when we gain momentum with one conversation, we neglect the possibilities of other great interactions. Don’t be afraid to leave a great conversation, because then you’ll have more reasons to reach out when the event is over.
If you are living in the San Francisco Bay Area and looking to network with other professionals, check out our calendar of upcoming events and get the best out of your networking skills: http://www.professionalconnector.com/events/