How good are your networking skills? Are you gaining awesome connections at every event, or do you leave with a handful of cards for contacts that never work out?
As you may have guessed, there’s more to the networking hustle than showing up at an event and hitting the bar. Networking has its own skill set, and you could be ruining your chances at making connections without even knowing it.
To help you hone your networking skills, we’ve put together a list of common mistakes to avoid. For best results, we recommend that you do not do or say the following at your next networking event:
Can I pick your brain? – People hate this question. It’s vague, one-sided, and needy. Start investing in the relationship and being of service before you ask for anything. Being a giver, not a taker, will encourage others to give too. If you ask to meet up for coffee, be specific about what you’d like to discuss, and triple bonus points if you can make it of benefit to the other person!
The Nine-Minute Pitch – Your explanation of what you do should be around thirty seconds long. If you can’t concisely say what you do, you’re going to come off as boring or incompetent. Get to the point, so you can get on with networking. Bonus Points: use your spiel to intrigue your audience so they’ll ask you for more!
Ask Dead-End Questions / Give Dead-End Answers – Dead-end Question: “How long have you lived here?” Conversation Starter: “What brought you out here?”
Dead-end Answer: “I’m a writer.” Conversation Starter: “I’m a writer; I love working with creatives on defining their brand.”
Other great Conversation Starters:
- “I’d love to hear more about what you do.”
- “What are you working on right now?”
- “What are your ideal clients like?”
- “Where are you from?”
Do Zero Homework – Know your audience! Never show up at an event without knowing what type of people will be there and what conversation topics will be well received.
Zoom in for Their Business Card And Then Exit – If you’re having superficial, two-minute conversations with people, they won’t remember you when you contact them later. Focus on having a real conversation and creating a connection before you ask someone for their card.
Wait for them to Approach You – Great strategy for bridge trolls, bad strategy for networking events. Quit lurking and be proactive! Walk up to a group and introduce yourself. Talk with thirsty networkers in the bar line. Befriend the introvert in the corner who didn’t read this article.
Have Too Many Drinks – Free drinks can be nice at a networking event, but nobody wants to chat with somebody who indulges too much. Drink much less than you would at a party to truly set yourself up for making a lasting connection.
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