Happy Thursday, peeps! With the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and the temperature rising, more millennials are finding themselves having to attend networking happy hours after work. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, for some. But for others, it's an event where they are encouraged to awkwardly stand in the corner of a room, have conversations with people they don't know, and ultimately exchange business cards with promises of keeping in touch.
In part two of the "Stop Networking & Start Building Your Network" series, here are four things I've learned from networking that you want to avoid:
1. Lack of Eye Contact and Attentiveness. There's nothing that bothers me more than when some individuals choose to look everything else EXCEPT for me when I'm speaking to them. They'll look in their drink, scroll through their phone, or yawn and simply look uninterested. When you are at a networking event, you want to make sure that you're giving whomever you're speaking to your full attention -- even if it's for just 60 seconds. Yes, I understand that chicken wing is finger-licking good, but keep in mind that your conversations with new don't have to last all night long. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Improper Transitioning. Speaking from experience, conversations can become very awkward if you just decide to up and walk away without transitioning into another conversation or ending with a proper salutation. Perfect example: last week while I was attending an event at American University, one of my friends entered the room while I was in the middle of the conversation. I start chatting with him, and suddenly I realized that I hadn't introduced him to the rest of the group. Needless to say, into a bit of a weird (and sort of rude) moment. If you find that you gravitate toward larger conversations (with no more than 4 people) during networking events, remember to always give the newest person to the mix an opportunity to introduce themselves, and if you need to dip, excuse yourself accordingly.
3. Doing The Most. Particularly when there are big-wigs in the room (think: politicians, journalists, CEOs) you will sometimes have those individuals who feel the need to over-do it. I remember a few years back during a pretty big networking reception, one of my peers was not just overzealous about his networking techniques, but he was bragging about it too. Now, when you're a novice networker, your thought may be to hustle and get as many business cards as possible, but remember the end goal is to harvest a relationship with the people that you meet. My idea is always to move around the room and meet different people, and if I find that our conversation was fruitful, grab their business card and keep it moving.
4. Not following up. Friend. What's the point of going to a networking event, schoomizing around the room and grabbing business cards if you aren't going to do any outreach? Granted, I'm guilty of racking up a number of business cards at some events, but a great way to remember to follow-up with someone is to make a small note on their business card to send them an email or a text. Similarly, if someone sends you a note, don't wait TOO long to respond to their kind gesture! While you're not obligated to become besties with the people you meet at networking events, these individuals could become vital to your expanding network down the line.
And there you have it! Keeping these things in mind will not only make you more effective at networking, but more purposeful when you attend events this summer, and all year round. Are there any other fails that you would add to the list? Send me a tweet or share your thoughts in the comments below. Happy Networking!