I just got home from yet another networking event, and I’m not even unpacking my bag, as I’m off to another one tomorrow evening, and another the day after that. With that in mind, I thought I’d share my thoughts with everyone one what to do and what not to do when networking.
DO: Take Time Writing Out Your Name Tag
DON’T: Place Your Name Tag Somewhere Innappropriate
Writing out your name tag is usually one of the first things you’re going to do when you arrive at a networking event, and it’s one of the most overlooked moments. Your name tag is often one of the first things people will look at when meeting you at an event, so making sure that it’s legible, informative and well-placed are all important. Chicken scratch does not scream succes, and neither does just writing your first name. Often times, including the name of your business, and in some specific instances, things like your twitter username are helpful pieces of info that help you stand apart from the other Mike standing two feet away. And of course, if your name tag is placed on your upper thigh, there’s a good chance nobody is going to see it. And if they do, you can be sure it’s gonna be an awkward moment when you catch them glancing at your crotch!
DO: Sample The Appetizers
DON’T: Stuff Your Face With Everything You Can Get Your Mitts On
There’s nothing wrong with having a snack at a networking event. Heck, that’s why they’re serving appetizers in the first place. But if you’re just there for the free food, chances are, people notice. A good rule of thumb is to try one of everything, but refrain from going back for seconds (Unless there’s something REALLY tasty, like mini-burgers!). And if you’re like me, have something to eat beforehand, so that when you show up and someone engages you in conversation, you’re listening, and not intent on snagging that server when she comes back around with those chicken wings…
DO: Relax And Have A Drink
DON’T: Relax And Get A Little Drunk
Nobody ever said there was a problem with having a drink or too. As a matter of fact, in a situation like business networking, it can even be helpful. I’ll admit that I’m a bit more keen to socialize after I’ve got a little alcohol in me, but know where to draw the line. Nothing can be more damaging to your budding reputation as getting a little tipsy and ending up being known as “That Guy Who’s Talking Really Loud And Saying Offensive Things”. Trust me, you might think everyone is laughing with you, but that’s the alcohol talking…they’re laughing at you.
DO: Shake Hands, Make Eye Contact And Speak Up!
DON’T: Mumble And Look At Your Feet
This one might be difficult, and feel awkward at first, but trust me, it says a lot about your business. There’s nothing wrong with being shy and reserved, but you’re certainly not going to make your first million by keeping all your great ideas to yourself. So get off that chair, walk over to that person that looks interesting, grab their hand, look them in the eye and introduce yourself! This may seem like remedial networking to most people, but seriously, it’s important. As a graphic designer, I’m well aware of the difference that appearances can make, but looking professional is only half of the equation. You need to walk the walk and talk the talk. For some people, this means having a rehearsed “Elevator Pitch” for their business, for others it may be as simple as just having a good conversation starter, and that leads me into the final DO/DON’T…
DO: Bring Lots Of Business Cards
DON’T: Forget Your Card At Home
I may have left this one for last, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s the least important. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. A good business card is the key to that warm lead you’re hoping to develop at a networking event. If you forget your card, or worse yet, your card is forgettable, then you can say goodbye to that comfortable follow up call. It can be really disheartening to dial up a prospect only to have them completely forget who you are. This is where an AWESOME business card comes in handy. They work as great conversation starters, and that conversation can become something memorable. And remember, although you look at your business card every day, your prospects are seeing them for the first time, so don’t dampen the impact. If you’ve got a great business card, then you’ve got something to be proud of, and that goes a long way in attaining that air of success we all look up to.