For those who are relatively new to the realm of networking, there are a handful of tips to remember whislt you fill your calendar with prospective events this fall.
Some might think these are obvious, but surprisingly enough, some event goers haven’t yet read the memo. How easy it can be to slide into “networking mode” and forget some simple rules.
Much like you would converse and interact at a friend's get together, being relaxed and appreciating your party mates, a networking event can be approached much the same way. Except guys, you may want to hold off on the chest bumps and ladies the squealing when you meet someone with similar tastes. That could get a little awkward…
1. The Card Collector
Not sure about you, but without a real solid and meaningful conversation, I have a hard time remembering whose card matches which face after an event. As rewarding as it is, flipping though the wads of cards you collected throughout the night, go for quality, not quantity. It’s not about hitting up as many people as possible to get those contacts so you have someone to call the next day. It’s about connecting with people on a real level, learning about what their business is and how you might be able to help them, and then, maybe, just maybe how they might help you. Otherwise, it’s likely they won’t even remember you and wonder “who IS this weirdo??” when you randomly call them the next day. Needing to give them a full body description to ring a bell.
2. Me, Me, Me!
This should be an easy one you would think, but so often the “me” train takes over and leaves your company way back at the station. Just think of it as a first date. You want to learn about this person and hear about them and perhaps how they might be of interest in your life? Then SHUT.IT. Or, if you can’t possibly be quiet for more than a minute or two, at least ask them questions about them, their day, what brings them to the event. Your time will come and they will be much more willing to hear what you have to say. And perhaps remember what you’ve said, instead of tuning you out while you share your epic sales score.
3. Materials Maniac
Although I am definitely a marketing material advocate, probably in the wrong line of work if I weren’t, there is a time and a place to deliver them. A networking event? Not so much. Unless you have a booth or are part of the event, leave your stacks of brochures, pens, and stressballs in the car. Apart from looking like you just picked up your material from the printer, people don’t have enough hands to hold stacks of material, along with their drink and appetizers that are most typically served. Business cards yes, anything larger, no.
4. Boozy Schmoozy
Mind your drinks. This one is good to remember for all public events, really. Especially if you tend to start slurring after one drink or feel the urge to start table dancing if a good song comes on, one drink in. You are representing your company and want to give the impression you take your work seriously. Have a drink while being social, not to BE social.
5. Awkward Assumptions
No need to act as if you know everything about anything. For one, that’s just annoying and two, you most likely aren’t an expert in their job realm. Instead of assuming that you know exactly what a “Bingo Manager” does, ask questions so you can confirm that you were along the same lines of thinking or be thankful that you kept your mouth shut when you were so tempted to say you thought they looked familiar from when you accompanied your grandmother to her smoke-filled bingo hall last week. Chances are, you will learn something new.