Networking Do’s and Don’ts
Whether you are looking for a job, to grow your business or make new friends, you’ve probably been told to attend network events. Networking is not about showing up at the event, grabbing some free snacks and starting a collection of different and colorful business cards. It’s about meeting interesting people, sharing with them who you are and what you do and trying to add some “connectors” to your contacts list so that you can grow your business or social circles and get the most out of it.
However, networking takes some preparation and time. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to networking:
- Bring business cards: You never know how many business cards you are going to hand out And connecting on LinkedIn isn’t going to help people remember you as well the next day or week.
- Dress code: Dress accordingly. Are you going to a corporate conference? Then a suit might be appropriate. Dress code changes from one event to another, as well as from one city from another. For example, attending a networking event in the San Francisco Bay Area you will quickly see that business casual (nice jeans, etc.) is the new formal.
- First Impression: The first impression counts, so introduce yourself smiling, state your name clearly and last but not least, give a firm handshake rather than asking people “What do you do?” I prefer to ask 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 you or your company, 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 right then. 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 always appropriate. It’s often not the right time or place.
- 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/