When you’re ready to head out to industry events to chat with other professionals, it’s important to exhibit proper networking etiquette in order to build mutually beneficial relationships with these individuals.
Avoid the following mistakes in order to make the most of your interactions at conferences, meetups, and meetings:
Mistake #1: Showing up unprepared
You should have a good idea about who’s attending the event, the topic at hand, and what you’re hoping to get out of going. Having a goal or target going into a networking opportunity can help give you more direction and focus throughout the day.
Mistake #2: Being a wallflower
If you’re hoping to meet new people, it’ll be pretty difficult doing so with your face buried in your phone or hanging out by the door. If you fear you’ll have a hard time approaching anyone new, bring an outgoing friend or co-worker with you to the event. It can also help to do your research beforehand so you know who will be attending and what you may have in common with them.
Mistake #3: Being unapproachable or rude
On the opposite end of the spectrum is showing up to an event with a “know-it-all” or unapproachable attitude. Remember that networking is about building mutually beneficial relationships—it’s not all about you. Think about how you can help others you meet at the event.
Mistake #4: Failing to bring business cards
If you meet someone who you’d like to keep in contact with, it’s tacky to find a piece of paper and scribble down your contact information. In fact, doing so may lead to never hearing back from them at all (not everyone’s handwriting is easily legible or clear when it comes to e-mail addresses and phone numbers). Instead, keep a set of business cards handy for networking events. Make sure your full name, e-mail address, phone number and website are on your card. Exchange business cards with individuals you speak with—and write down notes on the back of their card to help remember what you talked about with that person.
Mistake #5: Not following up with contacts
Hopefully, after attending a networking opportunity, you’ve made a few great contacts. But the relationship doesn’t end there. You should make a commitment to follow-up with a new contact in some way (adding them to your LinkedIn network, or suggesting their services to a friend, for example). If you didn’t explicitly state how you’ll follow-up with them, send a quick e-mail a week or so afterward to follow-up.
Have you made any of these networking mistakes before?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010) and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.