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Networking No-Nos For The New Year

So you want to grow your business, find potential contacts and make long-lasting friendships. You spot an interesting seminar and think this is a prime opportunity for all of the above. You arrive at the event early, business cards in hand, ready to network like mad.

But the clock is ticking. You have a tiny sliver of a window to make a good impression, and in the rush of the moment everything you’ve read about networking has flown out of your mind. Sweat is glistening on your upper lip, leaving sticky trails on the beverage you’re clutching for dear life.

We can help.

Instead of remembering the bazillion things you’re supposed to do at a networking event, we think it’s easier to remember what you shouldn’t do.  

So what are some of the things you should never do?

01 – Talk about yourself in the third person

We can’t imagine why you would ever do this, but nerves combined with alcohol does strange things to people. Unless you’re royalty there is no occasion that justifies such silliness. Nada. Niet. Nein.

02 – Use any kind of acronym in your speech

Yes, we know that the Oxford Dictionary’s word for 2015 isn’t even a word. And in this confusing, terrifying new world (CTNW) who knows what rules are even rules anymore? But stay strong and don’t succumb to the need to butcher the English language. Keep your “LOLs” and “TTYLs” to the absolute minimum, and preferably only in text to your best mate.   

03 – Bring up money

“So, how much do you make?” is not an appropriate opening line in any language. Neither is "can I borrow a tenner?"

04 – Compare business cards

  1. It won’t end well
  2. The conversation will only disintegrate into a cheap remake of that iconic American Psycho scene.

05 – Scout for potential suitors

No, this isn’t an opportunity to find Prince Charming. We’re firm believers that love can strike at any time, we even wrote a blog post about it, but going to a business event with a agenda in mind is just plain...wrong.

06 – Discuss the weather, religion, politics and/or your hatred of black jelly beans.

There are a plethora of other topics you can explore. Do you really need to bring up the mundane, the potentially offensive or the definitely irrelevant? (And besides, see point 7 below).

07 – Reveal too much about yourself

No one wants to know your morning routine, how many reps you completed at the gym or what you ate for breakfast. There is a thing such as “over-sharing”. Keep it clean, tight and interesting.

08 – Eat or drink everything in sight

While it’s tempting to hang out by the food/drinks table and hope the next quiche will quash those nerves...dribbling food down your front is not a good first impression.

09 – Pre-stalk everyone on social media

While it’s important to do your research on who’s who at the event, keep it professional. Don’t use this as an excuse to dig through their Facebook profile and glean every last bit of incriminatory information. Call us old-fashioned but we like to keep some things a surprise.

10 – Hijack the conversation

The fifth glass of wine has done the trick. You’re ready to work your magic. You stroll confidently up to the most important-looking person in the room, grab their sleeve and make your elevator pitch (that’s another no-no by the way). We’re all for bold entrances, exuding confidence and making eye contact – but slurring your introduction while the CEO and his golf partner stare at you awkwardly isn't the best way to win friends and influence people. 

11 – Turn up with your crew

It’s tempting to bring a friendly face so you don’t feel out of place as you head into the Lion’s Den, but don't view the event as a chance to catch up with the whole gang. Bringing more than one guest is not only unprofessional, it can disrupt the entire event (have you ever tried to give a presentation while a group of friends are giggling in the back row? Don't be those giggling friends!) Besides, how do you expect to make new connections when you’re only hanging out with your posse?


So there you have it. A comprehensive guide on what not to do. Steer clear of the above and be sure to watch your networking skills soar. What are some of the worst things you’ve done or seen being done at networking events? Share your thoughts and comments below!


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Mallika Goel
Mallika Goel is the communications manager at WorkflowMax, fresh from the agency world. She brings with her four years of experience working with some of New Zealand’s largest brands as well as more boutique ones. She thinks life’s too short to do one thing, so she keeps herself busy pursuing her many interests: an obsessive love of writing/blogging, fitness, travelling and design.

Mallika Goel