What NOT to Do at a Networking Event

Networking events – we’ve all been to them! And chances are, you either love networking or it’s just not for you. I personally enjoy getting out to networking events every so often to see what other business owners are doing and how they are marketing their business.

It’s important to remember, however, the reason you are attending a networking event. If the reason is to meet prospects, capture leads, and learn from other attendees, make sure you are marketing yourself in the best possible way. Here are some helpful tips from small business owners who have seen the best – and worst – at networking events.  Business handshake

Listen to others. How many times have you attended an event and haven’t been able to get a word in edgewise? You are doing yourself a marketing dis-service if you talk non-stop about you all night. Ask the prospect what her needs are (not yours). And pay attention and repeat back the information to demonstrate you understand what the person needs.

Don’t spend all night with people you already know. People see others who they already know and want to reconnect with them. This is not the way to market yourself, especially if you are attending the event to make new connections. John recommends that in this case, simply say to the other person that you will reconnect with them later in the evening and walk away.

Make eye contact with people, not technology. One of the worst things you can do at a mixer is show up and look at your smartphone all night. You are there to engage and meet people. By engaging only with your phone, you’re essentially giving the message, “I don’t want to talk with you.” And that’s no way to market your business.

Dealing with the unprepared and secretive networker. Another networking type that you want to avoid being is the unprepared or shy attendee. These are the individuals that show up without business cards and cannot clearly describe his business or what products he sells.

Follow-up is key. There is such great opportunity for marketing yourself in the follow-up that happens after networking events. Take that stack of business cards you obtained and send a quick “nice to meet you” e-mail. Follow the people and businesses on Facebook or LinkedIn. Similarly, if someone calls or emails you as a result of networking, don’t ignore the communication. Respond to the email and return the phone call. You never know what potential partnerships will form, or whether the person can be a referral source.

If done right, networking can be very rewarding and an excellent way to market yourself and your business. Don’t make the mistakes described above.

Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers and the President of Third Force, a strategic marketing firm. She's the marketing expert and book editor for Small Business Trends and a frequent contributor to AMEX Open Forum.

Posted in Essay
4 comments on “What NOT to Do at a Networking Event
  1. jcrosstalk says:

    Ivana, I couldn’t agree more, especially on the follow up. In fact I wrote a recent post on Networking with some additional tips. “Most importantly, following up and keeping your word are the keys to being a great net worker. If you do all of the above, you are well on your way to building a strong network.
    Where it all falls apart is in the follow-up! ”
    http://www.crossnm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/ST-Networking-.pdf

  2. Great post Ivana, I see more ineffective networking at events than I do effective networking. For people who like to rely on a system or process for networking, these types of examples are really great.

    Local to me in Seattle is a Real Estate Broker who wrote a book about effective relationship building if anyone is interested. For those of us who feel a little ashamed of promoting ourselves (you don’t have to admit it here), the book is great because it employs a very philanthropic approach that incorporates all of the things Ivana has described here. The book is call “The Gift” and if anyone is curious, here’s the link: http://www.givethegifttoday.com/.

    Thanks for the great post!

  3. Jcross, nice piece, thanks for posting!

  4. I suppose business networking is what you make of it. The more effort you put in the more you are likely to take away from it.

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