6 Things You Probably Do, But Shouldn’t When Networking
Networking is one of those things in business you love to hate. For some people it comes naturally. For others, it’s a chore. But in business it is necessary. Relationships are the root of all business transactions and should be cultivated and nurtured.
For everything you need to know about networking, “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi is a must read. In fact it’s one of my favorite business books of all time. Keith stresses that you should constantly be inviting people out for lunch and coffee and growing your relationships with people. Think about how you can help them and add value to their lives. Naturally they will want to return the favor at some point.
While Keith stresses that we should incorporate networking into our daily lives, I’d like to talk specifically about networking events. I’ve been to quite a few in my time here in NJ this past year and I’ve met so many amazing people including my fellow #momboss ‘s and style influencers. And based on “Never Eat Alone” and from my personal experiences here are some things you probably do but shouldn’t at these types of events.
– don’t bring a guest – I know it sounds intimidating to go alone, but when you bring a guest you use them as a crutch and end up talking to them the whole night. When you go by yourself, you’re forced to look outward and catch other people’s eye. You’ll have a better chance to talking to more people.
– don’t wait until the end of the panel to talk to the guest speakers or to hosts of the event. The speakers at an event are always publicized before. And they’re usually milling around before the panel starts. Do your homework, find out who they are and what they are about and start chatting with them from the getgo. Guaranteed after their talk, there will be a line of other attendees just waiting to talk to them and pick their brain. So get a head start and talk to them before. They will remember you.
– don’t go on an empty stomach. Its so hard to chat and chew at the same time. Take advantage of this valuable time talking to people and working the room. Don’t waste your time holing yourself up at the food table. Plus I’m sure alcoholic beverages are involved and you definitely don’t want to be downing those on an empty stomach.
– don’t try to absorb everything spoken from the panel and assume you will remember everything. There is such a thing as information overload and mental notes in your head will be replaced with more current notes. Jot things down. Write down key takeaways from each speaker. Reference these later so you can take actionable steps and use these to improve yourself and/or your business. And bonus points if you recap these same takeaways back to the speaker. Message them after the event and talk about how you loved when they talked about “—-” and recap your notes. It shows them that you were engaged and listening. This will only solidify your relationship.
– don’t get too comfortable. Congrats – you found yourself a new friend at the event that you have so much in common with. You can exchange numbers and promise to meet for a follow up drink/coffee but don’t stick with them the whole night. Save those longer conversations for your next meeting. Go find yourself more people to meet.
– don’t come without knowing the guestlist. Do your research and try to find out who else is going to the event. I like to stalk social media posts surrounding the event and I read through the comments trying to gauge potential attendees. And I pinpoint who I’d like to meet so I can make sure I look for them at the event. Be strategic about your time at the event. Face to face time with people is important. You bypass all the gatekeepers when you see them directly at an event so use this time wisely.