There are networking basics that any seasoned professional should know and abide by – always have plenty of business cards, wear your name tag on the right shoulder to align with your handshake, ask open-ended questions to other networkers, etc. – but a few others jumped out at me at a summer social event I attended.
The following tips are critical for even veteran networkers because they often become comfortable with a group they’ve been a part of for many years and feel they “know everyone.”
- When you spot a colleague or networking friend across the room, be cognizant that they may be mid-conversation with someone. Don’t run up and interject with, “Bob, it’s been so long and I was just talking about you the other night. How are the kids doing?”…and so on. First, this immediately alienates the other person Bob was speaking with and makes it awkward for them to wait out your conversation or politely interrupt to excuse themselves. It also defeats the purpose of why you’re there – to meet potential referral or business sources.
- Always be aware of your surroundings and those who are clearly circulating, looking to join another conversation. If you’re talking one-on-one or in a group and notice someone standing off to the side, pause your conversation to invite that person to join the conversation. We’ve all been there as a guest or new member, and it’s such a relief to be introduced to the group rather than have to stop three people mid-sentence to join a new conversation.
- It’s great to connect with someone and have a lot to talk about business-wise, but true networkers want to have face-time with as many people as possible. Don’t monopolize one person’s time at an event. It’s perfectly OK to pleasantly say, “I’ve enjoyed talking with you. We’re both here to meet new people, (and there are also a couple of people I need to talk with). I hope you enjoy the event. Then exchange cards and move on to a different area to network with people. If you want to stay in touch with someone, send a follow-up email or add them to your network on LinkedIn. If there is potential business to discuss, make a follow-up phone call.
– By Berbay Senior Account Manager Beth Miller