10 dos and don'ts of networking everyone needs to know
Something that may not have been taught at university – but which is still important and necessary – is the art of networking. Here are ten points to bear in mind in order to excel in this area.
Do your research
Before attending a networking event, you should not only make yourself aware of the focus of it, but also take the opportunity to consider the attendance list, if there’s one available. Peruse any online profiles of the people with whom you’ll be networking, while bearing in mind the next tip.
Don’t stay glued to your phone
It’s acceptable to take it out to check the contact details of someone who doesn’t have a business card, but not to talk, text or check messages. By focusing on your phone, you’ll seem too busy to engage with and may be considered disrespectful.
Do remain subtle
Don’t come on too strong. Whether you’re discussing legal matters or simply chatting on a personal level, avoid going overboard on what or how much you know. Avoid forcing your opinions on anyone, even if you hear something you don’t agree with.
Don’t be late
It’s likely that many attendees will actually arrive early, and you’ll be left out of any connections made if you arrive after them.
Do come prepared
Be ready to converse on topics that don’t necessarily relate to work, as engaging someone in their interests is a great way to start a conversation or fill an awkward silence. This is an effective networking technique that will enable you to connect with other attendees on another level, so you're more likely to be remembered.
There may be information that you need to take down, so if you use your phone for this purpose, make sure it’s fully charged. Have a pen and small note pad with you as back-up.
Don’t binge on the refreshments
There may be an impressive spread of finger food, but you don’t want to spray crumbs on someone you’re speaking to. Similarly, if there’s alcohol available, limit yourself or just say no.
Do dress smart
This tip not only applies to the appropriateness of the clothes you wear, but also being clever about what you wear so you’re comfortable. You’ll find it difficult to make a good impression while fiddling with cuffs or adjusting your waistband. A blazer, for example, can easily be removed if you get hot and will allow you to remain looking smart.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t go in with a fixed mindset about who you’re going to see or what you are going to talk about, as things can change. Be ready for a number of different scenarios so that you can avoid saying the wrong thing.
Do follow up
Whether you connect via an appropriate social-media platform or directly call or email, follow up and stay in contact with those you meet.
Don’t stay in one place
It’s easy to get comfortable when you’re having a nice conversation, but remember that you need to mingle. So gradually work the room and talk to as many people as possible.
The first time you may need to use your networking skills is when you’re seeking your first role, but it’ll remain useful throughout your career – and you never know what could result!