A networking event is a great way to meet new clients and form business relationships, especially for new startups. However, if you are new to networking and the business world in general you might make some crucial mistakes, like finding out on the night that the business card printing company misspelt your name. These mistakes may seem harmless at first glance, but in business lost opportunities can come back to haunt you. So if you have been looking for a list of do’s and don’ts for networking events look no further!
Here is our top nine:
1. Do Come to the Event With a Relaxed Attitude
Although you are here to meet new business partners and potential clients, it doesn’t mean you have to carry a ‘strictly business’ attitude all the time. Take a deep breath, relax and enjoy yourself, meet new people and keep the business side of things at the back of your mind.
2. Don’t Eat and Talk at the Same Time
You can guarantee that there will be snacks and drinks at a networking event, so make sure you eat with proper etiquette. If you are eating always keep your right hand free to shake hands and never start talking until you have finished eating.
3. Do Make Conversation
Do not just talk about yourself and your product. A conversation is a two way process so allow the other person to respond and contribute. Ask relevant and meaningful questions that will facilitate a feeling of mutual respect.
4. Don’t Overdress or Underdress
If you come to a semi-formal networking event in a three piece suit you will stand out and intimidate people. By the same token if you show up wearing a T-shirt and thongs no one will take you seriously. Try to find the middle ground, something that looks formal but not too formal.
5. Do Find Common Ground
Socializing with new people can be difficult and a little intimidating at times, so always try to find common ground with the person you are talking to. You will be surprised to find out how much you have in common with this perfect stranger. For example, if you find out that you both worked at a booklet printing business during university, relate your experience. This will build stronger ties, so when you turn the conversation to business it will seem more natural.
6. Don’t Just Gossip, Ask Important Questions
One of the biggest networking mistakes is to engage in idle gossip. Don’t talk about the weather or the latest episode of MasterChef. Remember, you are here to meet clients and form new business relationships.
7. Do Have Your Contact Information Ready
Never come to a marketing event without at least 30 business cards. There is nothing more embarrassing than patting down your pockets looking for a business card. Your potential client will see you as an amateur; definitely not someone he wants to do business with.
8. Don’t Hog the Limelight
Do not dominate the conversation when talking with a group of people. Make sure that everyone gets a turn to contribute.
9. Do Offer to Meet Again
There is little point in networking if you never meet the people you network with, so arrange a business lunch or after work drinks. With this article in hand you are bound to make many meaningful business connections at your next networking event.