There’s no real secret to being successful at networking, some people are just naturals and others aren’t. But there are few common things we can all try to avoid when branching out at networking events.
When you initially arrive at a networking event, you’ll probably spot a few people you know and go over to them first. However, avoid getting into a deep conversation where you don’t leave their side all evening. Maybe Jim has some shocking stories about his night out at the weekend and maybe he’s got you hooked in the conversation, but is that really going to get you what you want and need?
Confidently introduce yourself to the people you don’t know or have never seen before. But be careful not to spend too long choosing which person or group of people looks most approachable. After all, you’ll be talking to everyone eventually.
Now you’ve found yourself a group of people to talk to, you may find yourself clinging to that group, huddling around each other and becoming ignorant to the fact there’s other potentially useful people in the room. Other people may even want to join in, but because you’ve been conversing with each other all evening, other professionals are too intimidated to approach.
Unless the conversation is going somewhere beneficial, leave that group and move on to the next one. Your aim should be to have meaningful conversations and make connections with as many people as possible, learning their names and whether they’re of use to you and your company.
3. Giving out too many cards
No one likes those people at networking events whose sole purpose is to swap all of their business cards for other people’s. We’re not 12 and we’re certainly not trying to get the rarest, shiniest business cards going. Only collect cards from people you’ll remember to contact and will actually gain something from.
If they’re not of use to you, all you’re doing is collecting more dust-gathering cards to be stashed away in your desk drawer.
4. Talking too much
You’d be surprised how many people don’t know when it’s time to stop talking. If you’re rambling on about your niche profession which doesn’t actually affect anybody and the person you’re talking to is not asking questions or giving you eye contact, they’re probably searching for a way back to the bar.
And don’t be that person who only talks about their family or friends either. While you should show some personality and find common ground on which to connect, be careful. At the end of the day, we’re all there to get to know someone who will be beneficial to us – business should be your main focus.
5. Being vague
Once you’ve worked the room and are looking to revisit the people you earlier connected with, discuss how you will follow it up, but don’t be ambiguous. Saying you want to go for a “coffee” or meet up to “pick someone’s brain” is likely to end in them declining or worse still, ignoring you.
If you want to follow up with that person, be honest and explain exactly what you’d like from them and what you have to offer in return. Follow up by connecting on LinkedIn and reconfirming your request.
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