Going for a networking event can make one nervous especially when that time comes. I used to enjoy events until it got to networking time, not because I didn’t like people but because I didn't how to get started. For example, I used to go to events with a goal of speaking to specific people only or found myself sticking with people I know. I, therefore, thought I should write on pointers of what one should avoid doing during networking time.
1. Don’t hang out with people you know well because that would negate the point of attending the event if your intention was to network. You know these people and you always can catch up at another time and also, you will have missed creating a new relationship with someone that could lead to something more. I used to do this especially because I was a bit nervous to start a conversation.
This point takes me to the next which is how to approach someone in a networking event
2. Waiting to be approached
I find some people attend a networking event and sit on their own, probably take a snack and then go home. But it isn’t that they don’t want to network with people but most probably they don’t know how to approach people.
You can start by introducing yourself and then going ahead and asking an open-ended question. For example, get to know about the other person’s thoughts on the event? Something that can get them talking. Another thing can be starting a conversation with a genuine compliment. If there’s something that stood out for you in a person, it can be a good way of starting a conversation by expressing it. By telling them what you liked about them, maybe it’s their insights or how they emceed, it opens up the conversation and interaction.
3. Speaking to specific people only
Before, I could go to networking events to interact with specific people that I knew were attending the event and while this is not a bad thing, it can limit what you can get out of that event. There’s value in other people as well, and you can find that out when you interact with them. Know who they are and what they do.
4. Asking directly for a job
Even if you are there to look for opportunities, don't blurt it out. People want a conversation that they connect to. Focus on creating a conversation that engages the other person first. You are there to make a connection that can be nurtured and then one thing can lead to another.
5. One-sided talk
If you talk about yourself or pitch about what you do for a long time you will come off as a boring person. It’s okay to talk about what you do but it's important to give the other person time too. Let it be an engaging conversation.
I know networking can be a little uneasy especially when it's your first time or when you are not used to, but you just need to start or keep doing it. When you learn what not to do then you've started to get it right.
Be calm and know that you can always do it.