I’ve been hosting my own networking events for my barter exchange called THE GIVE ‘N TAKE NETWORK since 2002, so saying I really enjoy networking is an understatement. We pride ourselves on making networking fun and also helping folks get out of their comfort zone and leave with REAL CONNECTIONS-EVERY TIME. However, it didn’t start out that way…. I used to be so nervous networking early on in my career. However, with practice, I learned to do it right and be more strategic to where I network.
I’ve recently taken a break with hosting to focus more on my writing career, but I still attend other’s events. It’s pretty interesting to see what attendees do or don’t do. Unfortunately, it’s because they were never taught or never researched networking etiquette. Many folks will host an event, throw on some music, have a bar and if you are really lucky, some free food. Lol The place can be packed with the town’s movers and shakers, but what’s the point if you mess up an opportunity by making a bad first impression.
What happens when they turn the music down, get on the mic and the host says, “Okay folks, it’s time to network! Meet some new people!”
Do you freeze, order more food, stay in a deep convo about NOTHING with the bestie you came with, or here’s my ultimate favorite…do you pull up your FB or IG page and post a selfie and what a fab time you’re having “networking?” Come on people! Let’s not waste that snazzy outfit, business cards, and fee you paid to get in to do absolutely nothing!
It’s time to suck it up and do what you came there to do–make some powerful connections! I really have to bite my tongue at times when I see what happens in some of these interactions …but if you know me, I normally will tell someone if I need to. It was not unusual at my event for me to grab you from your lonely corner and bring you over to someone new to meet. I have to chill out when it’s not MY event. Hee hee… It’s so hard to do when I really want to stand on top of a table and yell, ‘YOU’RE DOING IT ALLLLL WRONG!” So, instead of standing on a table and embarrassing myself…I figured, let me do what I do best, write about it. Lol
I’m going to introduce you to a few folks that I’ve been coming across lately. If you are lucky you never had to meet them, but somehow I have a hunch you’ve met at least one. Worst case, you are one of them! ~a-hem~
- Mr. Hey Pretty Mama
I was sitting at table with some of my friends and we were still eating and not quite ready to network. This gentleman (I use the term loosely here) came up to the table. No excuse me, just started dealing out his business cards like a deck of cards at the blackjack table in Las Vegas. Then, the first thing out his mouth and I’m not exaggerating here, “Hey, hey… are you ladies single?”
~INSERT GAME SHOW BULL HORN~
I did have to check him, “So, wait – you want us to do business with you and the first thing you ask is if we’re single? How do you expect to be taken seriously?”
He tried to laugh it off, “Well you know…” with a shrug of his shoulders.
We laughed with and at him, but I did tell him “You should try to connect people first on business since it is a networking event.” If it led to something else in future…then cool. (Which not at my table it wasn’t). Men, especially if you are approaching females with a hidden agenda of: (Let me get her business card to get her number, because she is fine)…We are so checked out. We’re on to you. Rarely will you make a love connection that way. You might get lucky, but not often.
RESULT: His business card became a drink coaster. I never really even heard what he did. A table of 4 women he could have received business from or a referral from. Opportunity gone…First impressions are everything.
- The Mystical Magician
This is the person…man or woman who puts their card in front of you when your head is turned in a deep conversation with someone else. Maybe they might walk by in a flash and hand it to you followed by a POOF sound and a cloud of smoke and possibly even glitter. You might even catch a glimpse of the back of their unicorn as they ride off into Never Never Land.
RESULT: No handshake, no introduction, No humanly exchange whatsoever and guess what, NO BUSINESS. If you want to be remembered, make a connection!
- Ms. Video Vixen:
I see this waaaay more in Florida since let’s face it….it’s freakin’ hot and people wear much less. So, we’ll give VV a slight pass. But this is the lady who has her cleavage up to her chin, too much perfume, and maybe even is chewing gum. Oh yeah, class act! I’m not saying you have to look like a nun, just try to look someone respectable so that people will make eye contact with you and most of all, take you seriously. She might be extra flirty like Mr. Hey Pretty Mama and if we’re lucky, they’ll find each other by the end of the night. WE HAVE A MATCH!
Keep in mind, if you are in fashion or beauty industry, it’s only right you have to be a walking billboard for your business. However, remember to keep it classy. A stylist once told me, “pick your weapon or poison.. (I’m paraphrasing here) Boobs or legs.” LOL So, the outfit doesn’t have to have everything on display.
Result: You’ll be the fun good time girl, great for pictures, but as far as getting folks business…. It will be hard to be taken seriously if you are giving off desperation or looking like you’re off to a night of club-hopping.
4. The “One Too Many” Dude
You know this one…this dude can be male or female. They may approach you with a drink in their hand (not a problem at a mixer, but this is their 4th one.) They might be dripping in sweat from doing “Wobble” or the “Macarena” a little too hard on the dance floor and now they’ve mustered up some liquid courage to not only compliment you on your smile, but your lips too. They hand you their business card without taking their eyes off your “smile” and you begin to feel a bit uncomfortable. They might be slurring words and smelling strongly of wine.
RESULT: Well, you already know this a no-go. Politely excuse yourself to the bathroom to never return.
Oh…I can go on! There are soooo many more characters, but I guess I’ll save that for a chapter in my next business book. I’m long overdue for one! I did write an article on the basics of networking that was featured in my first business book, “Jack of All Trades, Master of None?” It was called, Work that Room, Baby. Check it out for even more tips on being prepared for your next networking event.
Please comment below….LET ME KNOW WHO I MISSED! Who do you come across when networking? I’ll cover them in another article on networking!
Simone Kelly is a Coach, Speaker, Author and the CEO of Own Your Power Communications, Inc. OYPC is a personal and business development company that helps you reach your life’s goals. Visit www.ownyourpowerlifestyle.com to listen to Own Your Power Radio shows, read her blog and learn more about her services.
Go Get Some Manners (Part 1 and 2) Covers some business and networking no-nos to avoid. It’s pretty funny too! SUSCRIBE TO OYP TV.