Ever show up to a networking event and have that pit in your stomach? That hard-to-swallow, shaking-hand feeling? I know I’ve been there before — a little unsure of how to navigate the giant room of strangers.
Whether you’re an experienced networker or new to the whole concept, you can always get better and improve upon your skills. To help set your nerves at ease and ensure you make the most of your time at your next networking event, I’ve compiled a list of networking dos and don’ts.
The List of Networking Dos and Don’ts
Do! Show up on time (and by on time, I mean 10 minutes early).
This seems like a no brainer, right? According to studies, about 15-20% of people show up late to networking events. Showing up early will help you make meaningful connections with like-minded people who also show up early. Also, the room won’t be quite full yet, which makes finding your first connection a little easier.
Don’t. Hand business cards to everyone in the room.
Nothing is more frustrating at a networking event than someone literally shoving business cards at me. Besides, I’ve found that if someone is really interested in what you do, they’ll ask for your card. Then and only then should you reach for your card to hand over.
Do! Dress for the occasion.
This can mean something different for each industry. A good rule of thumb is to dress as you would if you were going to an important sales meeting. For the most part, if we look good, we feel good. Wear clothes you’re comfortable and confident in.
Don’t. Try to hard sell everyone in the room.
I don’t feel like a networking group is the best place to make sales. Think about it: If everyone there is trying to sell, then who is there to buy? I suggest focusing on making genuine connections with people you’d like to work with at some point.
Do! Have a clear explanation of what you do.
I’ve heard this referred to as the “elevator pitch,” which is a 60-90 second description of exactly what you do. In a time of instant information, you must seize the moment. You don’t want to leave a conversation where the person you were speaking with still has no idea what business you’re in. Or, for that matter, what you actually do.
Don’t. Ramble on about yourself.
Want to know the trick to making great connections? Ask questions. That’s it! Really show interest in the other person and ask questions to get to know them. People at networking events like for you to throw them “softball” questions they’re comfortable answering to keep the conversation going. So don’t make the conversation too complicated. Just get to know them!
Do! Follow up.
Finally, follow up! Why the heck would you spend hours at an event like this and not follow up?! I believe networking is about building relationships. All relationships take work, so jot a note on a business card after a great conversation and schedule a follow-up email or call.
Making the Connection
At Design Extensions, a big part of my job is connecting with people. This ranges from clients to potential sales, and even people at networking events.
In addition to the above list of networking dos and don’ts, I also consciously do the following:
- Go in with the mindset of discovering how I can best help each individual.
- Keep my main concern on how I can help, not on what I can sell.
Networking is about building relationships. For any relationship to work, you have to be committed and work hard at it. At Design Extensions, one of our core values is commitment. We believe in long-term relationships, and many of our customers have been with us for over a decade!
We’re here for the long haul, and we’re committed to relationships that grow business. If you feel like your current digital marketing agency isn’t committed, feel free to contact me. I’d love to help!