Networking has been an industry term for quite some time now. And there isn’t a professional organization in existence that hasn’t hosted a networking event for its members. In a world as connected as ours, networking should be one of the easiest ways to get ahead in your career.
But believe me, there are plenty people who totally blow it at networking events. Here are a few I’ve witnessed firsthand:
The business card collector. Look, we all know you’re just trying to get people’s email addresses so you can spam them with your marketing emails next week. Do you even know my name or what I do? Do you even know if I’d be remotely interested in whatever you’re offering? If you don’t, that’s probably a good indicator that I’m not going to give you one of my business cards. “Oops, it seems I’ve just run out.”
The guy who makes it rain with his business cards. Have you ever met the person at the networking event that seemed to get a memo that said it was a speed networking event? I’ve had people literally drop in on a conversation to hand me their business card. Now – if that business card also had a free drink coupon on the back of it, I’d gladly accept it. But same rules apply here – if you don’t know my name or what I do, it’s likely that I don’t want your business card.
The stage five clinger. We’ve all been there – you’re at a networking event where you know ABSOLUTELY NO ONE and you strike up a great conversation with someone else who seems to know no one. As tough as it is, you’ve got to break away and continue to mingle. Don’t be the person who clings to the same person the entire night – you might miss an awesome opportunity to meet someone else!
The drunk. Virtually every after-work networking event comes with alcohol. Whether it’s a couple of drink tickets with your entry fee or a purely open bar for two hours, you’ve got to pace yourself (thank you for the lesson, college). Talking professionally doesn’t go well when you’re 4 pinots in. Lay a good base with the hors d’oeuvres, drink water, and have a coffee before you leave.
The hero. Networking is a great time to work in your successes. But it’s also a great time to learn about others’ successes. Seriously, don’t make this event all about you. Arrogance isn’t a good look and it’s pretty likely that everyone there has something they’re proud of. Come up with your elevator speech about your proudest moment, and make sure you’re asking questions of others.
The name dropper. So your dad was college roommates with the CEO of XYZ Huge Company. Awesome! Does that make you more qualified than I am to do a job? Probably not. The only time this would be mildly appropriate to bring up is if it naturally flows into the conversation.
What are some of your networking event pet peeves? Tell us about them in the comments!