Networking events are just as awkward and unappealing as Chinese New Year visits to disliked relatives.
You might be able to lose yourself in your smartphone while Aunty Irene blabbers on at that Chinese New Year gathering, but the very reason you’re even attending a networking event is to get useful contacts and perhaps some job/business opportunities, so resist the temptation to compulsively activate the Facebook app when you’re supposed to be interacting with other human beings.
As you might already have discovered, some of the douchebags you’ll meet at networking events make even the most vicious relatives look like harmless little lambs.
Here are four big networking mistakes people make that you should avoid.
It’s all about you, you, you
Sure, everyone knows you’re at a networking event to score some sweet, sweet lobang. But so is everyone else. The only way you can convince somebody to enter into a mutually beneficial relationship with you is to show what you can offer them.
So avoid spending the entire time repeating your elevator pitch to everyone you encounter without bothering to listen to their story, too. There are folks who go around blabbering nonstop about what they’re doing/selling and once they realise they’re not getting anything out of you, they move on to the next person and repeat.
It’s often a better idea to listen to what others have to say first and to start building a bond with them, before you start talking ad nauseam about your own job/business. They’ve already listened to 1,000 speeches from all the other self-absorbed folks in the room, so don’t be the 1,001st.
Not having a good elevator pitch
Some people attend networking events but, when asked about what they do, give only the vaguest of details or make their jobs sound so boring you’re not motivated to ask more.
While you shouldn’t be disagreeably narcissistic, resist the temptation to be overly modest and downplay your achievements. Be proud of your work and don’t be afraid to give people more details about what you do—if they show an interest, that is.
For instance, let’s say you’re a graphic designer who does kickass websites for businesses. Don’t just mumble that you’re a “web designer, nothing special”. Come up with an interesting two-liner that encapsulates what you do and encourages the other party to probe for more details.
Sounding unenthusiastic about work
Okay, we get it, nobody likes to go to work, at least in Singapore where employees have been given the dubious title of “least engaged in Asia”.
But try as much as you can to hide that fact at networking events, because nobody wants to work with or offer a job to somebody who can’t talk about his job without using expletives, or declaring that the only thing he likes about his career is the money.
Just as you try to put your best foot forward during interviews, so should you at networking events. You want to be the most positive, pleasant version of your real self.
Bad social skills
Networking well isn’t really all that different from going for a party or socialising with people you don’t know well.
If you’ve got great social skills, aren’t afraid to talk to new people, are a good listener and know how to make people feel at ease around you, you’ll do okay no matter where you are.
On the other hand, if you leave people with the impression that you’re a serial killer or are so awkward you deserve a role in Superbad, work on polishing your social skills first before unleashing yourself on the world at the next industry networking event.
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