What “Not To Do” When Networking

Woman-out-of-patienceSo far we’ve covered:

  1. The three questions to ask before you network
  2. How to find places to network
  3. How to make time in your schedule to go networking
  4. What “To Do” When Networking

This topic, what “not to do” when networking, is the reason that this series came to be. Why? Because I met someone that definitely did a “don’t.” And I’m not sure she realized she did it, but I’ll get to that later.

The Do Not’s

Forget business cards
Too obvious? However, at some point, you’re probably going to forget your business card or not realize that you’re almost out until you go to put more in your bag. It happens to everyone. So, don’t forget to ask for the business cards of the people you’re talking to.

Talk excessively past the amount of time given
This is when you’re given 30 seconds or 3 minutes in front of the group to introduce yourself. Not all networking groups are set up like this, but when they are, honor everyone’s time by staying within the given time frame.

If you accidentally go over a little bit, people will be very forgiving. However, if you habitually take extra time, people will start to tune you out when you start to talk, because you’ve trained them to expect you to be a while.

Talk only to the people you know
You’re there to reconnect with people you know AND meet new people. Yes, you want to continue to develop the relationships you already have, but don’t do it at the expense of meeting new people.

Monopolize the conversation
Don’t spend the whole time talking about you! In fact, ask the other person to tell you about themselves first. Be curious about them, ask them questions. Some questions to get you started:

  • Tell me more about that.
  • How did you get started doing that?
  • How long have you been in that business?
  • What do you love most about doing that?

Monopolize someone’s time
It can be more comfortable to continue a conversation with someone you’re already chatting with then to find someone new to talk with. However, it’s best to recognize when it’s time to move on.

Sell at the event!
Do not sell at the networking event! Networking groups / events are for meeting new people and businesses (and continuing existing relationships). Yes, they maybe people that you do business with in the future or people that will do business with you, but do not try to sell someone your product or service there. That’s why you make appointments! (See the previous article HERE for more information)

Yes, if someone says, “I’d like to purchase x from you,” you’re certainly going to take care of that request, but you shouldn’t be trying to sell them your product or service – only telling them about it.

Story Time
Yes, one reason this series on networking came about because someone tried to sell me their business opportunity at a networking event. She had a clear vision for the possibilities her business opportunity would give me and my business (good for her! She believed in herself and her company!), but she wasn’t listening when I told her I wasn’t interested (I believe my words were “that’s not the direction I want to go with my business”) and she continued to try to convince me to work with her.

I finally stopped her, thanked her for sharing,, and firmly told her I wasn’t interested. She finally understood and became very embarrassed and quickly moved on.

I share this story for three reasons:

  1. The networking event was not the appropriate time for her to pitch me her business opportunity. If she wanted to share how working with her might benefit me, she would have been better served to ask to meet with me later if I wanted to learn more. In other words, set up an appointment – where I would know what the purpose was.
  2. If you have a bad experience with one person when networking, do not give up on networking or that particular group or event. Recognize it for what it was, an unfortunate experience with one person, not with the group, event or networking as a whole. Just keep that in mind. I know those experiences can be really frustrating!
  3. Don’t be that person! If she continues to network that way she will probably find herself being avoided. Mending fences is possible, but can be difficult.

Be aware of the “do not’s” but focus more on the “do’s” and you’ll be in pretty good shape. Next week we’ll cover what to do when you get home after the event.

Do you have any additional “do not’s”? Share in the comments below!