The next time you consider attending an offline networking event, keep these tips in mind:
- Go where people you want to meet are gathering. Seems obvious, but I’ve been to events for small businesses and met reps from vast corporations. Try meetup.com for groups in your area. You can also ask online forums or groups for suggestions.
- Don’t sell everyone the instant you meet them. Find out a bit about them before you bust out your elevator speech.
- Don’t be that guy. You know, the smarmy one with the slightly creepy smile talking at everyone ans listening to no one.
- Don’t hide behind a potted plant. Ok, I admit it, I’ve been guilty of this one. I took my complimentary cocktail and hid behind a big palm tree. If the event makes you uncomfortable, either talk yourself down from the anxiety or go home. Staying and hiding is just weird.
- Have your business cards READY. It’s just awkward to stand smiling with your card in your hand while someone rummages through her bag for a card.
- Be polite. Even if the biggest freak show in the room chats you up, keep it professional. To quote my mother: You never know who you’re talking to. Wouldn’t you be embarrassed to find out the freak show who was chatting you up was your biggest client’s brother?
- Follow up! Why bother collecting cards if your aren’t going to do anything with them? Just syain’…
Do you have any live networking horror stories? I’d love to hear them in the comments.
Photo credit: 4nitsirk