Controlled Setting vs. Various Uncontrolled Variables.
The biggest advantage of online and social media networking is that you can easily control, in a careful and calculated way, what goes into cyberspace. You proofread your emails, pore over your profile, and double check posts before you send them out. Real life in real-time, as we all know, is not as easy. The weather, the type of day you’ve had, the other persons present, and their personalities – these are all uncontrolled variables that you must face when engaging in some good, old-fashioned person-to-person networking.
All you can control in these situations is yourself, so be sure to be put your best self out there by avoiding the following faux-pas.
1. The Over-Excited Networker at the Networking Event
Don’t be that person who comes in with the mega-watt smile, oblivious of the setting or atmosphere, and steps into a conversation to which he/she was never invited. This personality asks a number of questions in rapid succession that would put an experienced auctioneer to shame. The mega-watt smile is always paired with vigourous handshaking, and a voice volume that is constantly set on “loud.”
Don’t be this networker. Although enthusiasm is welcome, this type of over-excitement makes other people uncomfortable, and likely, annoyed. This is not an auction or a sales show; take a breath, relax, and put away your TV host personality for the night.
2. The Silent and Sitting in the Corner Networker at the Networking Event
The wallflower, almost every party has one (or a garden). Networking events, on the other hand, should be flower-free. This is not the time to hone in on your introvert skills. Of course, walking into a room of strangers who are smart, successful, well-connected and talking shop can be intimidating. It is normal to feel nervous. It is problematic to let your fear and nerves relegate you to the back of the room, isolated and checking your emails from your smart phone.
First, put your phone away, it is a crutch (unless you are genuinely waiting on an important email that must be addressed immediately, then you get a pass.) Second, scan the room, look for other people who appear to be new to the scene. Third, approach a small group of people, or another single networker. You may strike up an interesting conversation, or not. If not, just move on to another small group. If you have found a kindred spirited networker, use your new-found friend to approach bigger groups of people. Repeat as necessary.