What NOT to Do at A Business Networking Event
Many entrepreneurs avoid going to networking events and it is usually because they either don’t know what to do when they get there, or they don’t know what proper networking etiquette is. For both types of people, I have complied the following list of things to avoid doing at any networking or business event.
1. Don’t Drink Too Much Alcohol
Many people tend to grab a glass of wine to help them relax at networking events; however, it is important to know your limit. It will never make a good impression on anyone you meet if it is obvious that you have had too much to drink at the event. More importantly, it comes across as unprofessional and will make new contacts think twice before they start building a relationship with you or recommend you to others. If you need a glass of wine to relax then leave it at one glass.
2. Don’t Flirt or Hit On Someone … Enough Said
I hope that this does not need any further explanation, but a business function is never a good place to flirt or to look for your next date. It is just unprofessional and makes others very uncomfortable. Just don’t do it.
3. Don’t Exchange Business Cards and Then Immediately Go Back to the Office and Spam Them
If someone gives you their business card it is usually because they want to continue to build a business relationship from the conversation you had at the event. There was probably something you were discussing that they wanted to learn more about or you promised to send them some additional information on something. Send them more on the topic you discussed with them or the promised additional information and then follow up later to see if they had any questions or want to meet for coffee, virtually or in person to continue the discussion. It is important to remember that when someone gives you their business card it is NOT implied consent to be added to your weekly newsletter, etc. Be considerate and respectful of each person’s information.
4. Don’t Try to Sell When You Are Networking
People come to networking events to – network. They want to build business relationships and that should be your goal too. A networking event is your opportunity to meet new people you may have synergy with, to meet someone that may have a problem you can provide a solution for or may have a solution for a problem or challenge you may be having as well. When that happens the goal is to continue the conversation and to start building a long lasting business relationship. It is NOT the appropriate time to be pushing your newest product or service. Of course, you can mention your products or services when they ask, but don’t try to make a sale. If they are interested that is the perfect chance to ask for their business card so you can send them additional information after the event and follow up. However, BE SURE you do follow up soon after the event and include all the information they were interested in. Also, if they mentioned something else you may be able to help them with be sure to include that information as well.
5. Don’t Ask for an Introduction to Someone Else When Just Meeting a New Person
No one likes to feel used. And if you ask someone to introduce you to one of their connections right after meeting them makes that person feel used. It will come across to them that you only wanted to meet them to get to their connections. Again, this is very unprofessional and will not help you build a good relationship. Instead, ask them how you might be able to help them and then help them. More often than not, if you are more interested in helping them, they will be more interested in helping you in the future.
All of these “Don’ts” put the focus on you and what you want or have to sell and this is a good way to determine how to act or what to say at a business networking event. If it is focused on what you want or need, then don’t do it. If it is focused on building relationships and helping the other person, then that is what you want to do.
Do you have some other networking “don’ts” to add to our list? Please share and explain why you don’t think it should be done. I look forward to hearing from you and reading your comments below!