Whenever I hear about a new networking event, I take notice. I immediately want to know about the topic, who’s speaking and where the event takes place.
I enjoy networking, and — surprise, surprise — it happens to be part of my job.
As president of Canright Communications, I network on a weekly basis. I’m always interested in meeting new people, spreading the word about what we do and making a few new client connections along the way.
But as much as I love attending these events, there are a few blunders I see people consistently make, and that goes for both novice and experienced networkers. Here are five networking faux pas you want to avoid:
1. Don’t run to the buffet. This might seem like a basic concept, but you wouldn’t believe some of the stampedes I’ve seen erupt when the food is brought out.
Yes, you might be hungry, but it’s hard to make new connections with a mouth full of food. Instead, you might consider inviting someone to the buffet with you. I’ve had some lovely conversations sharing cuisine around a table.
2. Don’t dominate the conversation. You go to networking events to meet people, not brag about yourself. People often talk about themselves when they should be asking questions. Try to learn something meaningful about each person you engage with. This can go a long way in establishing rapport.
3. Don’t forget to bring your business cards. If you really want to use your time well, you’ll have a stack of business cards ready to give to the connections you make. People who forget business cards usually miss opportunities, not to mention look somewhat unprofessional.
4. Don’t toss around business cards like you’re playing Go Fish. While it’s important to have a business card on hand, please don’t pass them out like you’re a Las Vegas blackjack dealer. It’s usually in poor taste to hand someone a business card before you properly introduce yourself. So save your business cards for your connections.
5. Don’t enter an event with a poor attitude. This should go without saying, but I’ve seen too many networkers enter an event with frowns and slouched shoulders. When you network, have an intention to have fun. Positive attitudes are contagious, and you’ll stand out as someone they’re drawn to.