Posted by Robert Half on 07 July 2013
How to get the most out of professional events
Networking with colleagues has the added benefit of creating new business opportunities. Even if you're not in the job market, staying in touch with others in your industry provides a chance to brainstorm strategies and share best practices for remaining competitive.
Working a room can uncover hidden job opportunities at the executive level, as long as professionals avoid some common networking errors. Networking mistakes are easy to make, especially for those who are out of practice.
Outlined below are several common networking mistakes and tips to avoid them:
Assigning staff members to attend most industry events
If you delegate this responsibility entirely, you risk missing out on valuable networking opportunities. Make an appearance at professional association meetings whenever possible.
Skipping the networking reception preceding a business function
Arrive early to mingle with other guests or the speaker before the program begins. Scan the sign-in sheet to see who's arrived, then seek the people you want to meet.
Limiting your circle of contacts
Expand your network to include professionals at varying experience levels, not just your peers. Look outside your industry for potential contacts. You never know who might have the right connections.
Overlooking new venues
Networking isn't just for business occasions. Make an effort to meet at least three new contacts at social gatherings such as sporting events or holiday parties, and always carry business cards with you.
Having a hidden agenda
Be up-front if you're looking for assistance in your job search, and be prepared with a 15-second sales pitch. Others will appreciate your candour and be better able to help you.
Being overly aggressive
While it's important to communicate regularly with people in your network, try to avoid it becoming a disruption to yours (or their) productivity. Equally, don’t interject into other people’s conversations.
Failing to write down pertinent information
After meeting a new contact and exchanging business cards, jot down a few notes about your conversation on the back of the person's card to jog your memory later.
Always let people know you value their help. A simple thank you note or email is appropriate. Manners get you everywhere.
Even if those you meet aren't able to help you, maintaining your network and your positive attitude ultimately will lead to new opportunities. You never know what might change in the future.
Networking is an important part of business and can often take time to master. If you’re feeling a little out of practice don’t let this apprehension make you avoid networking events. Just take it one step at a time and practice each of the above in stages.