Networking events are opportune times to make business connections, so consider what you should and should not say when you are introduced to new people.
Question: What is one thing you should never say at a networking event?
“Take My Card”
“Sounds counterintuitive, right? But here’s why you shouldn’t say “take my card”: A card should always be requested, not forced upon someone. The purpose of sharing a card is to further advance an initial rapport that’s developed. When requested, it means the recipient wants to stay in touch and you’ve earned that. When it’s shoved in front of someone, it leaves a negative impression.”
“Where Is the Bar and/or Food?”
“At a curated networking event, your hope is that each person attending wants to engage, collaborate, and speak with other attendees. By asking where the food or booze is, it can imply that the real reason you’re attending is not for the conversations. If you must get a drink or find food, ask the person you are speaking with to walk with you in your search.”
“Let Me Pick Your Brain”
“Those five little words are my worst nightmare. If you meet someone who intrigues you or who you would like to do business with, don’t ask them to go to coffee to “pick their brain.” These meetings are usually unproductive, difficult to get through and purposeless. To make an impact, approach someone with a specific goal or an intentional offer of help.”
“Can You Help Me Get a Job?”
“People who met you 30 seconds ago do not want to be put on the spot like this. Recognize that networking events are for getting to know people and germinating new professional relationships, not for assessing how other people can help you immediately. It never hurts to suggest ways you can assist a new contact. But in the beginning, you should never be the asker.”
“That Idea Won’t Work”
“Try to avoid giving unsolicited negative feedback to someone you just met at a networking event. It’s not your job to give this person feedback, especially when they didn’t ask. It’s arrogant and unwelcome. Instead of saying, “that won’t work and here’s why…” ask them questions so you can better understand. If you’re still not sold, then simply smile and wish them well.”
“The worst thing you can do at a networking event is stay silent and wait for people to approach you first. The whole point of going to a networking event is to make connections and expand your social circle. Even if you are shy, you need to say something (anything!) to make the experience worthwhile.”
“I’m an Attorney”
“You should never say what your job or role is. You should connect what you do with something that is bigger than your role. So if you are an attorney, you would say, “Business owners hire me when they can’t get a customer to pay them for work they have completed.”
“So How Can I Benefit From That?”
“Networking should be about building mutually beneficial relationships, not about wrangling new acquaintances into helping you “get in” on their business or market opportunities. Engage with people who do things you find interesting, but don’t try overly hard to inject yourself into situations that aren’t a smart fit.”
For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Business Collective.
Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.