I recently wrote about the five things you should always do at a networking event to make a lasting impression, and I decided to follow it with a review of what I’ve noticed a lot of people do that make me not want to continue the conversation. When you do these things, you risk losing out on major opportunities because people won’t perceive you’re worthy of them.
Here’s my top five things you should never do at a networking event:
1. Give a fishy handshake
Always, always, always practice your handshake on your friends and family before you go to a networking event. You’ll never be able to tell how good of a handshake you have until you try it on someone else. Your handshake is your first impression. If it’s weak, your networking partner will think that you’re not confident or, worse, that you’re not enthusiastic about talking to them.
2. Constantly try to sell yourself.
A major mistake that I find a lot of people make is that they try to dominate conversations and only focus on selling themselves. Imagine if someone came up to you and did this – what would you think? Adjectives like desperate, selfish, and arrogant would probably be what you’d use to describe them.
My top tip: create a dialogue before you break out the elevator pitch you’ve been practicing all week. This is especially important if you’re meeting with someone who’s your senior. You can guarantee that all they’ve heard so far at the event is elevator pitches, so taking the time to build a dialogue will be both refreshing and memorable.
3. Be a wallflower.
It isn’t enough to just attend the event. If you’re standing in a group but not actively contributing, no one’s going to notice you. I find that sometimes this happens when a networker isn’t confident that they’re smart enough or far enough along in their careers to comment on the discussion. That’s okay! Instead, try the angle of asking questions to further the discussion. If you’re an introvert and this is a real problem for you, check out my top tips on how to network as an introvert!
4. Exchange business cards quickly and then leave the conversation.
When you’re in a conversation only to get another person’s contact information, it shows. It disengages the people you’re talking with and it makes them less likely to remember you as someone they’d want to connect with in person or on LinkedIn. Try to talk to each person for at least 15 minutes before asking for their business card. This will help build trust so that the other person can feel more comfortable giving you their contact information.
5. Discuss topics that are too complex or inappropriate for a networking event.
A networking event is your time to have conversation that’s both engaging and interesting. When you try to show off how smart you are, you come across as arrogant or you disengage your networking partner because they don’t understand or are uninterested in the conversation. Keep it casual to make the most of the event!
What turns you off at networking events? Let me know in the comments section!