Illustration: Ashley Siebels
Networking truly is an art.
If you don’t talk enough, you could be perceived as cold or aloof. If you talk too much, you could be considered unprofessional or self-interested.
To do it right, it may help to learn from those who do it exactly wrong.
Here’s what unsuccessful people do when networking.
They talk all about themselves
No one wants to hear you wax poetic about every single one of your accomplishments — or worse, constantly name drop. It gets really old, really fast.
So don’t be that person. Make networking a two-way street.
Instead, tell them what you do in a way that engages them, plus, ask real questions that show you’re interested in the person’s work and professional history. Think of ways that you might be of service to them in the future.
They stick with the same group of people
Once you meet people you really get along with at a networking event, it can be super tempting to stay with them for the majority of your time there — especially if you’ve gotten a lively conversation going.
But don’t be afraid to venture out into the unknown and dive into a discussion with a new person or group after a while. It’s necessary for personal growth and professional development, plus, you never know who you could run into when you go out on a limb.
They use one friend as a crutch the whole time
There’s nothing wrong with attending a networking event with a friend to take the edge off, but you’ll want to avoid being glued to the hip for the duration of the gathering. How else will you meet new people?
Just remember this: Networking is never a waste of time, as long as you don’t squander the opportunities in front of you. So use them wisely and get out of your comfort zone.
They talk negatively about people
You don’t know who you could be talking to, so before you go and insult a person or employer, hold your tongue.
You also don’t know if you’ll have to work with this person down the line, or need their help, so it’s best to treat them how you’d like to be treated.
But if it’s already too late — meaning, you already put your foot in your mouth — here’s how to fix a bad impression at work, with some tips that could apply to events.
They are unclear in networking emails
The recipient won’t know what you want if you don’t tell them.
Don’t waste your time sending an email to your mentor or other professional connection that doesn’t show how they can help you specifically.
You won’t want to beat around the bush here — if you’d like someone’s assistance, be cordial and confident in your “ask,” and offer to help them with something they’re working on.
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