Networking doesn’t have to be an abomination, although for most of us, it is. The pressure to “hob-knob” with strangers can be pretty stressful. And, coupled with all of the antics that usually get us into trouble; we generally make a mess of it. However, sometimes learning what not to do can help us focus on what we should.
Here are 4 networking faux pas to avoid the next time you’re out schmoozing:
1. Being a Wall Flower.
Why go to networking events if all you intend to do is lurk in the shadows? That kind of behavior defeats the purpose. Avoiding others sends the message that you lack confidence. So, step out of your comfort zone. Smile. Introduce yourself first. Repetitions of discomfort create growth! After a while, you’ll begin to relax and realize the benefits of proactively and confidently engaging others.
2. Being a Deer in Headlights.
Not sure what to say during conversations with strangers? Most people aren’t. But, that’s the point of striking up a conversation. Relax and be yourself. Ask lots of questions; this allows the other person to become engaged and focused on sharing. In turn, you should be prepared to share key aspects about who you are and what you do, including hobbies. It’s surprising how many times my hobbies have captured someone’s attention—not my expert positioning.
3. Monopolizing the Conversation.
Talking about yourself ad naseum is one of the worst things that you can do in a networking environment. It smacks of an over-inflated ego and turns potential synergies into disasters. Remember, you are there to learn about others just as much as others are there to learn about you! Breathe. Take turns. You’ll have plenty of time to talk about yourself—because the other person will ask you some questions. They will. Wait for it…they will! Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t always have to “wait your turn” to begin sharing information about yourself. There are often numerous opportunities to lead, but be careful. Most people take this cue too far and end up…monopolizing the conversation.
4. Failure to Follow-up.
The purpose of networking is, of course, to re-connect after the event. But, if you don’t follow-up, all bets are off. Don’t turn your networking efforts into wasted time and effort. Set yourself up for success by exchanging information before you leave the event. Then, send a follow-up email within 24 hours that includes pertinent information about the conversation you shared. These details are priceless.
Avoid these 4 networking faux pas and you will be off to a great start at your next social event!