Networking Dos and Don’ts
by Wendy Jacobson
Many people love in-person networking. Most people don’t. The prospect of walking into
a room full of people you don’t know and striking up a conversation with at least one of
them, all in the vein of “growing your sphere,” is downright silly to a lot of people.
But, it can also be a very powerful marketing tool.
I used to fall in the “I hate networking” camp. Now, I rather like it. Granted, I joined a
networking group that meets once a week, so I’ve gotten used to the whole idea. And, I’ve
gotten pretty comfortable with it.
That’s not to say that everyone is comfortable with it, or even knows how to do it. So
consider these networking dos and don’ts.
Whatever the networking event, do walk in with your head held high and with a smile on
your face. When you make eye contact with anyone, approach, hold out your hand and
Don’t walk in, sit down and look at your phone. Or stand up and look at your phone, for
Do bring an ample supply of business cards. You will be meeting lots of people, and you
want a way for them to follow up with you. Also, do ask for the business card of the
person you are chatting with, especially if you think there is synergy between your
Don’t try to sell your services. This is networking, not selling. The idea is to meet some
folks, get to know them a bit, and follow up if it makes sense. This is not a sales pitch.
Do be prepared to answer the question “What do you do?” Have a response ready that is
concise and to the point. When done responding, pose the same question to the person
who asked you.
Do listen. And do ask more questions. Be engaged in the conversation.
Do follow up. After the event, draft an email to all those people you met and want to stay
connected to. Find them on LinkedIn and connect with them there. And if it makes sense,
ask them to coffee to learn more about them and their business.
Don’t expect to get a sale from attending a networking event. A new client should never
be the end goal of any networking event. Rather, the end goal should be the opportunity to
meet new people and grow your network. The more your grow your network, the more
referrals you get, which will ultimately lead to more business.
Yes, in-person networking can be a lot of work and it can force a lot of us out of our
comfort zone. But, the end results are well worth the growing pains.
About the Author
Wendy Jacobson is a freelance writer and content strategist living in Minneapolis, MN.
Along with publishing a local online magazine called Minneapolis Happening, she works
with businesses to help them articulate their message. She and her husband, Andy, have
two amazing children (Ethan and Sasha) and a sweet dog, Astro. To learn more about
Wendy, check out her website, wendythepooh.com.