So back to all the holiday parties and networking events you’ll be attending this season. While lots of people have their own do’s and don’ts – here are what I think are surefire ways to make networking events a waste of time by following the type of advice they offer in Yahoo! Home Page articles. More on considerate networking in my article Hi, Nice to Meet You. Me, Me Me, Me, MeMeMe… at: http://wp.me/pWfpN-2M
1. Ask for a Reference
At networking events, some suggest asking people you respect and have had positive working relationships with ‘for a reference ‘, hoping they’ll get the hint that you’re on the market. They imply that this is less awkward than asking for help with a job search.
I think this may backfire as that people aren’t generally so forthcoming with helping others, and will mistakenly assume you have opportunities already if you need references, as that no one checks them early in the hiring game.
2. Use Elevator Speeches in Conversations, A.K.A. “30 Seconds of Bragging”
I think they’re great ideas in general, to present subtlety in conversations at interviews. But in social, networking environments? You sound like a used car salesman, but even sadder is that you’re selling yourself. I was recently at a networking event, having a lovely conversation with someone, and then he started ‘accomplishment dropping’. I don’t know why he was compelled to give me his pitch, I started spacing, looking for other people to talk to, before I had to hear more. Did you know I’ve improved recruiting for my for my company despite a five million dollar recruiting budget cut?
3. Offer Unsolicited Advice
No one likes to hear what they could improve or are doing wrong in life. Calling people on their “stuff” doesn’t help you make friends faster. Some take it more gratefully than others, but generally if you’re trying to get someone to help you (i.e. find a job, buy your product, etc.) complimenting them is a better approach.
At a family event, someone complained greatly about their employment situation. I suggested they try reading my blog for advice, as that hey, it’s there for that reason. The person volunteered to me that they think my blog is too negative. That I ought to have a more positive tone, and be more encouraging.
While this person meant well, all I could think was, hey, I’m offering to help you, and why don’t you write a preachy blog? See how many readers you get?
But instead I was a good girl and kept my mouth shut, and I was humbly reminded that this is why I don’t write touchy-feely self help books and stick to my ever-so-snarky blog.
4. Hand Your Card to Everyone Who Will Take It
It’s like the people who stand on street corners handing out menus or the fliers for the shady ‘suit sale’ a few blocks over.
No one wants to take it, and if they do, they’ll be looking for the nearest garbage to toss it into and be bothered. Few will say, hey, thanks for YOU! Unless it’s a promotional item with your info. If you’re handing them a pen with your info, they might just happily pocket it and look at it again later
5. Politely Blend In & Be Quiet
No one likes the loudest person in a room, but no one notices the quietest one either.
Wear a black suit, white shirt, black shoes, bland accessories, black and white business card, and you’re guaranteed to stand out as much as a penguin in a group on penguins…which one were you again? Especially if you’re on the quieter side, now’s the time to practice speaking about your assets and let your own style stand out. Be confident and assertive in starting conversations with those who you feel you may have a potential association with.
Throw on a brightly colored accessory, men, that’s your tie, ladies, a professional yet spunky scarf, shirt under your suit, bag, or shoes – but definitely not all of these combined. You don’t want to scare people off or give them the wrong impression that you’re one step away from more colors than the muumuu’s in a Florida retirement community…unless you’re trying to land a gig in the arts or fashion district. They allow for more flamboyance.