The Don'ts of Business Networking
Written by Kristin Marquet for Gaebler Ventures
We have discussed everything you need to do to be successful in networking. Below is a comprehensive list of things you should not do when you are networking with industry professionals.
You have decided to join a few industry associations and networks and attend a couple industry events to spread the word of your business. Here are the things you should never do when networking to try to get clients.
Do not act as if you are too cool for everyone. Overcompensating for your shyness, lack of confidence or nervousness by bragging and boasting about your success is a major turn off to others. Honestly, who wants to hear about how wonderful your product is? People do not care how wonderful you think you are.
Ask questions about other people, but try to abstain from opening with "So what do you do?" The conversation needs to flow naturally. Trying to force or fake a conversation is one of the worst ways to kill a potential relationship before one has even started.
Do not limit yourself to people that you know. Get out and mingle. Even though it may not be comfortable to sit and talk to people you do not know, if you make yourself do it, you will gain the confidence skills you need to approach people. Get out of your comfort zone and meet as many people as possible.
Do not block yourself off or create an invisible barrier by carrying items such as your coat, purse, attaché case, a drink, or a plate. Be comfortable, look professional and feel confident. Keeping at least one hand free will enable you to shake hands and give and accept business cards.
Do not complain about the people that are attending the event. In fact, do not complain about anything because no one wants to be around a Debbie Downer. Even though complaining can be an easy icebreaker, it is not an effective icebreaker. Use this opportunity to ask or recommend a book. This is the easiest way to break the ice while staying positive and upbeat.
Do not be afraid to approach someone you wanted to speak to for a long time. Remember, everyone feels uncomfortable at networking events. Just relax, be confident, and do not take anything too seriously. Have fun and make the most of every event that you attend.
Do not be afraid to send a quick email to those people you met at the event. I recommend sending a short note within 24 hours of meeting him or her so that you stay fresh in his or her mind.
Once you have mastered networking etiquette and have made a few connections, you will start to see your profits increase. Business may come from that person you met at the event, it may come from a satisfied client who refers you business, or another professional who books you speaking engagements, features you in a magazine, newspaper or on television, or partners with you. Just do not be surprised when you see how much your business increases when you start networking with the right attitude and right people.
Kristin Marquet will be receiving her MBA from Harvard University in Fall of 2010. She has worked in the marketing and public relations field for over 10 years.
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