Avoid Networking Blunders During Conferences
May 10, 2019
Meeting other professionals during conferences is part of the reason why most attend, and yet some come back to work without having meaningful conversations. Networking is a skill that continuously grows throughout your life, but to be honest not everyone knows how to network effectively.
Naturally some are more comfortable introducing themselves and meeting people while others appear intimated. Regardless of your comfort zone, successful networkers all share a common goal, meeting people to give and receive information. Networking is not one sided rather an exchange of knowledge between people.
There are some things to keep in mind when you are meeting people at a conference, for instance it pays to be aware of your audience and sensitive when sharing information. If you are thinking about a career change soon, a conference is a good place to gather information but diving into your career transition plans might be better at a later date, when you are free to talk without the risk of sharing your goals.
Forming a genuine interest in meeting others is the absolute key in developing rapport. Keep in mind that everyone will make mistakes when networking but learning from them makes you stronger.
Avoiding these five blunders when meeting people at a conference will make your conversations more effective and send a positive impression.
- Never underestimate who you are talking with by being too opinionated. While attending conferences and other professional settings be aware of your listeners and who you are meeting. Who knows who you are talking to? The person may own a company where your background would match perfectly but the way you are expressing your opinions could be a turn off.
- Lacking a clear introduction that’s simple and easy to remember. When you meet people for the first time, avoid confusing them with too many career details. Truth is most won’t remember all the facts and you could end up losing the listener with a lengthy introduction. Keep it less than a minute or two.
- If you are currently employed do not run down your employer in hopes of establishing rapport or understanding with others. Potential employers may give you empathy but most will view this as a reflection of your judgment, thinking if you do this with your current employer you are likely to do the same thing to them.
- Keep the conversation balanced. Ask questions and show interest in one another’s background. Refrain from doing the majority of talking, listen to them as well. Good networking is an exchange of information that requires asking questions. Extroverts are great at meeting others, but they need to be aware of when to ask questions and encourage a discussion. Introverts are good at listening but need to draw people in by talking about themselves as well.
- Keep a healthy view of networking by knowing your boundaries. True confessions of a bad career choice or your bonus plan at work is usually not safe to talk about at a conference. Building rapport can also be created by the types of questions you ask, not necessarily how much information you share with people. The choice of words you use as well as being sensitive to different work cultures matter when mingling.
Be professional and know that some people are just uncomfortable with networking. Do your best to include others and be kind. Most people will remember how you made them feel rather than why you attended the conference.