There can be some really annoying people at networking events. It doesn’t take long to recognise them, and people go out of their way to avoid being with them.
Let’s visit some of the behaviours which spoil an event for other participants and turn prospective contacts away rather than attract them to you.
Here’s how to be the networker from hell:
Ramble through your elevator speech, refusing to notice that you’re exceeded your time limit
Inconsiderate networkers talk without taking breath. They resist all attempts by the facilitator to tap them on the shoulder and stop them in their tracks.
Continually talk about yourself
Believe me no one wants your whole life story on their first meeting. No one cares! Ask questions and listen. Your new-found friend will signal when it’s your turn to talk.
Push your business card at your fellow networkers
Don’t assume everyone wants your business card or brochure. Wait until you’re asked or offer it when the signals are right.
Turn your back on newcomers
It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone and talk to your select group of friends. Don’t leave newcomers standing alone. It’s bad manners and seriously, a networking event is about meeting new people. You can catch up with old friends for a coffee date later.
Arrive in pairs and stay with your pal
Make a point to arrive at networking events by myself. It can be daunting, yes, but it pushes you to meet new people. Rather than hang out with your friend for the entire event, brave it! Seek out people who are standing alone; approach them with a warm greeting.
Continually scan the room for someone more interesting to talk to
This sends a clear message that you’d rather be in the company of someone else.
Yes, some people make boring conversationalists, and maybe your conversation partner is not in the market for your products or services, but it’s incredibility impolite to be scanning the room for more appealing conversationalists.
Besides when you take the time to connect with people – you never know. They you may gain a “raving fan”. Seriously you don’t know who your greatest champion will be so make time for people.
Have one too many drinks
Nobody at a networking event wants to chat with somebody whose slightly tipsy, although they will learn more about you than you had perhaps intended. Drink in moderation. This is a business event.
Unprofessional dress is an invitation for people to write you off. Boost your own confidence by looking professional and well presented.
Go into sales mode
Is there anything more annoying? You should not be hawking your wares at a networking event. You’re there to make connections, not get put on someone’s blacklist.
If people are interested in your products or services – and they like and trust you – they’ll invite you to talk more about how you can assist them.
Hog the discussion
If there’s a break-out session, or small group discussion, be sure to engage without taking over. Know when to relinquish the limelight and let others contribute to group discussions.
Use your time to listen and learn from others. They’ll appreciate your interest, and you’ll build more respectful relationships which, of course, lead to more lasting friendships.
Think about all the times you’ve been interrupted. It’s not fun. Actively and patiently listening communicates respect. You might even learn something. People can tell when you’re interested.
Try to meet everyone in sight
Brief discussions don’t really achieve much. It’s better to spend quality time with one or two people than move from person to person handing out your business card or brochures.
Command the guest presenter’s time
No doubt you’re interested in what the guest speaker has to say however, so are others. One or two questions from you is more than enough. Allow others time to ask questions.
You can always approach the speaker later or even follow up with a question via email.
Be a stalker
After the event, by all means connect with people you meet. Always do this online – never by phone unless they specifically asked you to make contact. That way your new contact chooses whether they’ll engage. If you don’t receive a response, move on to someone more receptive.
You’re probably not going to avoid awkward networking situations entirely, no matter how hard you try — at some point, you will get cornered by the one person in the room who is the “networker from hell”.
Just ensure you’re not one yourself
Remember, people do business with people they like and trust. Attend networking events with the intent of supporting others.
You can’t always avoid bad networkers, but you can certainly avoid being one.