At The Next Level, we believe each client has different needs and ways of getting things done – there is no cookie cutter solution. In our business coaching practice, we have tools and methodologies at our disposal, but each client is approached in a manner that will work for them. Our core belief is that every business owner has within them the ability to create the business they really want; our role is to be like a rudder on a ship to keep them on course. Our work is to help a business owner get from where they are to where they want to be!
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What NOT to do at a networking event.
By Mark Hiatt
Occasionally, I find myself talking with someone who reminds me of how far I have come along the path of the networker. I always mentally thank them for that. At the same time, I wonder: "has anyone ever told them that this is really not acceptable networking behavior?" And then I remember that it wasn’t too long ago that I was making the same mistakes.
Well, whether you are new to networking or a battle-scarred veteran, you will enjoy reliving past, present and possibly future networking mistakes with me as we explore the:
Top Ten List of Things Not to Do at a Networking Event:
10. Don't be timid. Networking can be scary - there's no doubt about it. But if you are going to commit the time and energy to going to an event. Don't sit at the bar and stare at the TV hoping someone will come and talk with you. Set a goal to talk with 10 people, square your shoulders, and march out onto the field of prattle. Bring a friend or fellow networker who helps you feel more outgoing if that will help. A networking event is not the time to express the timid side of yourself.
9. Don't be pushy or impatient. Long lines for food get you down? Waiting 15 minutes for a drink make you cranky? Listening to someone extoll their own virtues make you ponder the club-like qualities of an empty beer bottle? Understandable. But, take a few deep breaths and refocus on the positive aspects of your situation - your beer was a tax write off, for example.
8. Don't ask too many questions. And, when you do ask questions, ask purposeful questions - ones that might help you find commonalities. I recently met someone that must have read somewhere he was supposed to ask as many questions as possible and keep the focus on me. I thought I was a guest on Firing Line. "Where are you from? What did you do there? Why did you do that? Do you like the appetizers? Do you have family here?" Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
7. Don't criticise others at an event. No one likes a critic - whether it be an inner critic or an outer critic. Thus, don't put yourself down - and don't put others down. The networking world is a small one and word travels quickly.
6. Don't use inappropriate or disparaging humor. Your friends at the bar might find you to be hilarious - but that does not mean you should carry your act into a business setting. Have fun. Relax. But if you have to ask yourself if certain humor is acceptable - it's probably not.
5. Don't focus on yourself and your needs. The key here is the word "focus" or, by definition: "a point of concentration . . . a center of attention." (Merriam-Webster On-line) So what should we focus on? Listening. Good conversation comes from really hearing what the other person is saying and being able to branch your thoughts off of the same tree.
4. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Treat everyone you meet with respect, if not just because they deserve it, then because you never know who they know.
3. Don't hand out business cards like candy on holloween. Give your business card to someone after you have talked with them and determined that there may be a reason to exchange cards.
2. Don't offer unsolicited opinions. We all have thoughts about the world and for the most part we are convinced of their truth. However, a networking event is not the place to prove that your theories are the best ones. Look for collaboration of both thoughts and deeds - if your opinions do not contribute to the collaboration - don't voice them.
And finally, number 1 in the Top Ten List of Things Not to Do At a Networking Event:
1. Don't sell. Want to know how tedious, predictable and generally abhorred selling is at networking events - just do a little research on the internet. Article after article will demonstrate how people feel on the subject. Want to stand out? Don't be yet another used car salesperson. Instead, look to enjoy a good conversation or find a commonality or help your new acquaintance in some way.
Copyright 2009 by Mark Hiatt