Not all the networking events you attend are going to be painless. You may end up making a faux pas here and there, and you’re almost certainly going to be on the receiving end of a tactless networking attempt at some point in your career. But you can make networking more enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you by avoiding the following networking mistakes:
– Don’t try to meet everybody. Networking is most effective when you build strong relationships with a few people rather than make shallow contact with the whole room. Learn to recognize when a conversation is going well and stick with it rather than abandoning a strong beginning to pocket more business cards.
– Don’t forget to follow up. Good networking behavior continues after the event ends. Don’t only reach out to the new contacts you’ve made when you need something, either. Instead, continue building your relationship. Connect with them on LinkedIn and congratulate them on their professional accomplishments. Send them an email every once in a while just to check in. Offer to help when you can.
– Don’t avoid eye contact. One of the best ways to show interest in another person is to make eye contact with them. If someone’s telling you a story, don’t let your eyes wander around the room or focus on your drink. Even if you’re dodging eye contact because you feel nervous, you might be sending a signal to them that you’re uninterested in what they have to say.
– Don’t forget to listen. When it comes to networking, hearing what the other person says is as important as saying your piece. Interrupting someone can immediately turn them off and so can talking endlessly about yourself. Instead, signal that you respect and are interested in the people you’re networking with by listening to them.