‘Tis the season of parties, celebrations and within those are, of course, the most worrying part- networking. Around Christmas is the time to be jolly, and we’re not stopping that, but things can get a little too jolly in areas that can potentially lead to uncomfortable or unprofessional behaviors. Remember always to consider the crowd and be respectful!
So, a company has treated you to a lavish venue experience – the way you enter and leave those parties is important because it could go downhill quickly. Don’t worry, we’re not pointing fingers here – we’ve had our fair share of networking mishaps! – but are merely sharing from our own learnings to guide you through these patchy events. Let’s discuss the things you could find at these events that have a higher potential to go wrong – the presentations… the drinks! The people you may find boring are all factors that can cause slip-ups. Here are some pointers to walk you through a smoothly attended networking event.
Research Key Attendees Beforehand
There’s usually a list of attendees running alongside the company which attendees are representing, pick out the ones most valuable and do some prior research. LinkedIn is the perfect way to scoop some information about individuals, it also won’t hurt to research the company, knowledge will impress!
Don’t Be Late
Not only is this completely embarrassing, for you and you only, you’ve instantly given the wrong impression. You will be ‘that’ person for the rest of the evening and will have a stigma attached to you that isn’t professional. You will also be giving an impression that the event isn’t important enough to be leaving enough time for travel, or even good enough to show when it starts.
Go In With a Purpose
There could be many reasons you decided to attend this certain event – socializing, looking for a new job, company representation or just to meet a few more clients. Murray Newlands seems to know how to do the job fairly well, “Before you arrive at an event, ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it.”
If there is a presentation given, take notes. If someone says something interesting, take notes. Even if you had a great conversation, and you can’t risk forgetting the highlight of it, take a note. These will be very valuable to the aftermath of your networking event, reflecting on what you gained from attending and even remembering everyone you met.
Silence Your Phone During Presentations
Calls and texts are distracting to you and the others around you, another huge brownnose potential that you can live without. We’re not suggesting to turn it off, because that would be irresponsible, you’re about to share contacts or LinkedIn profiles and pictures of your cat. Keep it on but be responsible.
To Drink Or Not to Drink
Now we’re talking about responsibility, it’s up to you how to play this drinking card. Will you be drinking? And if so, how much will you be drinking? HR professionals have reported findings of when drinking is acceptable:
- 2% acceptable at a meal with a coworker
- 4% acceptable at a meal during a job interview
- 14% said that drinking alcohol at a work-related event was never acceptable
The decision can boil down to the nature of work and the type of networking event because you do not want to be the liability of the group. This also depends on the amount you can handle, what is your drunken personality? If its giddy and slurry then your consumption must be minimal. But if you start to see the straight and narrow after a few, then let’s see what happens.
Ask Good Questions
Your peers are all in the same room for one reason, that’s already a similar preference to base a conversation. People enjoy speaking about themselves, within 60 percent of conversations, people are talking about themselves. Ask about family, but by no means ask about specific members. There are plenty of good questions to ask, just make sure it’s the right person and the right time.
Don’t Be a Pusher
Nobody likes a pusher. You could be pushing a product or just yourself in a certain manner that could be quite annoying. Networking leads to results, but only with the correct approach. Keep some distance between you and the person you’re speaking with, keep a smooth tone and keep your responses short.
Connect Like a Puzzle
If you’re asking good questions, you’ll naturally draw good connections between you and the rest. Maybe there are two people who have the same target client, or you can help people along the way make a connection with another attendee. This is ideally the main goal to achieve at a networking event, encouragement will always make you shine.
Never Ditch a Conversation For Someone More “Important”
An automatic fail, but understandably a temptation. If you see an important person walk through that door, remain calm and interested, but start drawing the conversation to a close when the time is right. But just remember if you abruptly end the conversation to speak with someone, in your eyes is “better” – this is a networking embarrassment.
No Card Spamming Allowed
Be specific and selective. Firstly, you don’t want to get rid of all your cards before the end, or before you reach your ideal connection. But you also don’t want the client with the most potential to see the force within. If you feel there hasn’t been a big enough rapport with someone for them to ask for your card, don’t offer one!
You may be jumping into a new partnership and you don’t want it to start on a lie. Be genuine, it will show. Authenticity throughout will build a strong connection between you and the other guest, and these are the relationships you want to be keeping.
This is the best part of physical contact to round off a great conversation, and shaking hands has a complete list of rules in itself. Research has found that shaking hands with someone may increase chances of a positive interaction and certainly diminishes the impact of a negative impression. So make it worth it!
The best way to overcome these common faults is to plan ahead. If you struggle with maintaining a conversation or have some difficulty with selling yourself, then your purpose is way more advantageous when thoroughly thought out before. Speak to your friends or colleagues for some advice, and take these factors seriously, because with these factors in place, you have all the tools for success.
Being based in San Francisco, Barcelona, and London, you can find us attending many networking events across these locations this winter. Where will you be? Comment below if you think there’s one we shouldn’t miss!