In my line of work I have to do a lot of networking with people in my area. I go to at least one or two networking mixers each week to meet new people and talk with clients. I have met tons of different types of people at these events, some came across incredibly reliable and interesting, while others did not. I have put together a little list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to professional networking, however I do believe these can be tips for many other types of connections as well. These can be helpful when it comes to any kind of work event, first date, or even what you put on social media.
Do bring plenty of business cards. This will be key in making new connections in your field.
Do smile – it is a great way to show others in the room that you are excited to be there and meet new people. Smile while you are approaching a new person, some people might be intimidated or not know how to start a conversation. Personally I like to find a group of 3-4 people and talk to them as a group about something – the location of the networking event, someone’s great shoes, or what the specialty cocktail is.
Do dress appropriately. A nice dress, skirt and top combo, or slacks and a cardigan are a great way to go. Also, make sure you have comfortable shoes. You will be standing most of the event.
Do be willing to talk to new people. Sometimes I have talked with people that I didn’t think I would click with and they have ended up being great connections! Ask simple questions about their business, where they live, or how they heard about the networking event. These are good questions that you can then follow up with.
Do follow up with the people you met the next day so you will still be fresh in their minds. Ask them to get coffee the following week or ask for a tour of their business. If you wait too long you will loose that great contact.
Don’t talk negatively about your company. You never know who might be listening.
Don’t discuss your weekend plans, or how drunk you got at that fun concert the night before – leave that talk for your friends.
Don’t flirt! If you meet someone good for you, however leave the flirting and hand-holding for another time.
Don’t get drunk, I met a woman at an event once who was so drunk they had to call her a cab to get home. Talk about making an impact!
Don’t be nervous! Networking can be intimidating, so remind yourself before you go that you are there for a reason and to make great connections with people in your field!