1. The Superfluous Salesperson
Think back to your first few weeks in business; the importance given to an 'elevator pitch' and 'selling yourself' like a corporate Casanova. You've probably spent hours painstakingly memorising yours... Kudos to you.
But, if you are planning on using this script as a response to the question, 'So, what do you do?' at a networking event, then you need to stop, smile politely, and swerve.
Networking events are about building relationships. BUSINESS is about building relationships. You're better off introducing yourself with an unpretentious sentence such as, 'I manage a marketing company just on the outskirts of London', and then let the conversation take its natural course. Take an interest in the person you are networking with, and ask them the questions.
2. The Man Like Meerkat
The 'sentinel' meerkat is one who is on the 'lookout'; watching for possible predators and other potential threats to the community. In a business perspective, imagine a professional in the same industry as yourself, or a direct competitor.
First of all, if another business owner sells scented candles like you do, it does not make them the devil's spawn. Secondly, it is rude to scour the room and 'size-up' other attendees, without attempting to make conversation first.
So, please don't be a figurative meerkat. A defensive and uninviting demeanour is the same as wearing an A-board that reads, 'Don't do business with me!'
3. The Racy Romeo
Nobody ever died from a bit of harmless flirting, but understand your surroundings and the person you are networking with, at least. A chat-up line is not professional (no matter how smooth you may be).
You could argue that you've built a rapport with somebody, the interest seems to be mutual, and heck, this is great for business. But be very aware of the environment you're in. A potential client may be watching you from across the room, or that keynote speaker that you've so desperately been trying to impress- ask yourself, 'what kind of an impression am I giving?'
4. The 'Nada-Nada' Networker
Whilst touching up every person you network with is frowned upon, being a social recluse is not cool either.
This is difficult to take heed of if you're a naturally shy or introverted person. But nobody is expecting you to be a 'shouty-shouty' networker, with a flamboyant personality or style.
It's common for some networkers to feel a little nervous before attending an event; especially if it has been massively hyped up on social media. In the real word, people are just... well, people. Give yourself time to settle in and make eye contact with that person who's awkwardly standing around in the room, like you (there's always more than one). It's amazing what a 'hello' and sincere smile can do these days; try it because you'll thank yourself for it later, massively.
5. The Business Bestie
Don't be fooled by the sub-heading, there is nothing endearing about becoming a 'stalker-like' business bestie.
So, you've done a smashing job at the event and collected plenty of business cards (well done!); whilst a 'follow up' is vital, it is important not to go a step too far, and start pestering your new associates.
When a business person voluntarily hands you their card at a networking event, this usually means, 'Hey, call me for a friendly follow-up over a coffee' not 'harass me on all my social media platforms, and add me to your email marketing list'.
The bedrock of networking follow-ups is providing value first, without expecting anything in return. Nail this, and you're onto a winner.
So, nothing overly complicated, nothing that requires you to read a fat book, or memorise jargon-packed pitches.
All that business networking requires is that you be yourself, and let that innate passion for your business do the work for you. Trust me, you might even end up enjoying yourself, too.
Neelam Khan / Content Developer