The Top 10 Dos and Don’ts of Networking
#1 – Do Be authentically curious Shyness is easy to overcome when you are genuinely interested in people. Always encourage others to talk about themselves. Everyone has a story, so listen and be sure to ask open-ended questions that foster conversation. Learn something from everyone you talk to. Some of the best conversationalists do very little talking.
#2 – Don’t Be Aggressive Start with casual conversation before broaching the subject of business. While exchanging business cards is appropriate, carrying a fistful of promotional material is not. Never -ever!- barge in on a group and proceed to dominate the conversation.
#3 – Do Ditch the Clique It’s easy to stay in the comfort zone of people you know, talking to a small cluster of friends. At an event where you have come to network, save socializing with friends for another time. Now is the time to smile and dive into the crowd, making as many connections as you can.
#4 – Don’t Monopolize Don’t be a time hog! Instead of talking to one person all night, try to spend at least five to eight minutes with everyone. If you see someone’s attention wandering, politely excuse yourself. And, by the way, never say something like, “Excuse me, there are other people I have to talk to!” Exit with style by complimenting the person. Try using this line: “I’d love to chat with you all night, but I know there are so many other people who want to speak with you.”
#5 – Do Pay Attention to Social Graces Everyone knows them, but strangely, quite often they are overlooked. Here’s the lowdown: Make sure your personal hygiene is perfect. Carry some mints in your pocket if you aren’t sure about your breath. Make eye contact. Don’t invade anyone’s personal space. Extend your hand and offer a firm handshake. Introduce yourself in a clear voice.
#6 – Don’t Use and Abuse Networking isn’t about using people, it’s about creating mutually beneficial relationships, helping others, meeting a wide variety of interesting people and creating solid, long-term relationships. Networking should never be used for short-term, one-sided gain. If you approach networking from a “what’s in it for me” point of view, it comes across as slimy. No one likes slime.
#7 – Do Take Notes After meeting someone, try to jot down a few notes about the person and the conversation on the back of their business card or in a small notebook. Nothing is more embarrassing than confusing two people. Some networking aficionados endorse whipping out a pen and taking notes while in front of the potential contact, but most agree it is best to do it discreetly afterwards.
#8 – Don’t Forget to Follow Up Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Thacker says lack of follow-up is the primary reason for missed career opportunities. She advises following up with an e-mail or, even better, with a phone call within 72 hours. This allows you to keep the lines of communication open. Studies have shown that it is harder to make a sale and reconnect with the potential employer, if you don�t follow up within three days.
#9 – Don’t Limit Yourself While it is essential to join professional organizations, network outside of your industry and immediate peers. It’s a small world, and you never know who might have the connection you need, so get to know a wide variety of people from all walks of life. Thacker recommends joining at least two to three networking groups.
#10 – Do Show Appreciation When a contact provides you with a referral, offers some advice, or helps in any way, never miss the opportunity to thank them. A handwritten card or cheery e-mail demonstrates that you value the relationship. After all, networking is not about surface smiles, it is about building long-lasting and meaningful connections.Related article – How to Use Social Networking Sites to Promote Yourself