In Part II–Rules of Engagement, we discussed how to engage with others during a
networking event by thinking of: how we want to be remembered by those we meet.
If you follow that thought process, the ‘Don’t’s’ below should not even rear their ugly heads. You will already be focused on making sure the other person feels that your
interest is genuine. They will be relaxed and comfortable in your presence.
But I would be remiss in not mentioning some of No No’s in detail. That way, if you find yourself falling into one of these scenarios, maybe you will remember reading this and it will jolt you back to where you need to be.
Okay – so let’s address some of these No No’s for Networking.
Don’t become a card collector. This isn’t a contest to see who can collect the most business cards at any one event. You are there to make meaningful connections and relationships. You may only make one real connection, but a viable one. It could even turn out to be your next best client or vendor.
Don’t pitch everyone you meet. Again, remember this isn’t a contest. Not everyone there is a potential client! You are there to learn more about them–not the other way around. It may turn out that you pass them along to someone better qualified for what they need. They won’t forget your help, and it could come back to you in word of mouth referral in the future. Think of it as little Random acts of Kindness. Remember how important those moments have been to you.
Don’t be too passive. On the opposite end of the spectrum, from the person who pitches everyone in the room, is the quiet person standing in the corner. Are you that person? Maybe you’re shy. You might be surprised at how many of the others in the room would say the same thing. This is that moment when you have to break free of your comfort zone. And when you do–watch out. You might find yourself enjoying yourself, and discover a growing confidence you never thought you’d have. It happens. I know–that used to be me!
Don’t be a Mugger. You all know this person. They stand near the food table nibbling on the appetizers. But the moment a victim come close, they attack, with the whine.
Yes–I spelled that correctly. This person just wants a captive audience to complain to. They don’t want to be there. They don’t want to really engage with you. They are there to rob you. What are they stealing from you? Your precious time!
Don’t fall victim to the Kidnapper. Similar to the Mugger, the Kidnapper takes you hostage with a banal one-sided conversation, rambling on and on about themselves. They don’t want to get to know you, or build a meaningful relationship. This is when you “elegantly extract yourself from the conversation”. You may want to practice using this technique at home, so it flows easily from your lips. You maintain your reputation as a professional, but escape the Kidnapper.
Here’s an example: “I see______just entered the room and I promised to chat with her/him. It’s been nice talking with you, but please excuse me so that I can keep my promise to_____.”
Don’t wait for opportunity to happen–Create your opportunity. Example: If there is a circle of people whom you wish to join, don’t wistfully wish you were included in the conversation, mope in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. Step up to the group and pleasantly ask if you can “introduce yourself”. Most people in these situations are truly polite and professional. Maintain that same attitude and no one will be sorry you joined them. If they are rude to you–then they are not the type of people you want to get to know anyway. Move on and don’t take it personal. There are plenty of nice people in this world to meet and get to know.
To counter all the “Don’t’s” listed here. Watch for my next blog, Networking Part IV –Doing it Right – where we balance this out with the Do’s of Networking.