======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
“What am I doing here?” I think as I scope the playing field of this networking event. Groups of suited strangers are gathered across the bar, making an impressive amount of useless small talk. I hate networking. I like meeting new people, but these aren’t people. They are fortresses that have built up extraordinary walls to protect the thoughts that they believe are not marketable to business professionals. A shot of alcohol to kick off the event should have been required to get these rigid cubicle drones to loosen up.
I wince as I overhear “So, where are you from?” as I walk towards the bartender. It feels like fraternity rush all over again, except no one will get drunk enough to set something on fire or punch a hole in the wall.
You don’t go to a conference, seminar, or networking event to write up a character report on each person you meet. You are there to hopefully make some friends, because friends help each other out more than a couple of strangers who traded business cards at the last accounting seminar downtown. Be interesting and you will meet interesting people in return, right? That’s how it goes? So, let’s make networking events somewhat worth your while again (solid hat slogan), shall we?
Here’s a breakdown of the types of people you don’t want to be at your next event. Because the first step to making new, business-savvy and well connect friends, is to exclude people.
This person was probably forced to go to the event by a friend, coworker, family, or employer. They clearly do not want to be there due to being shy or uncomfortable and will spend the majority of their time watching people from a distance. They might imagine what they would say to the people they observe, but never actually move from their spot. Once you get past the initial awkwardness, you might come across one of these Watchers with a pretty interesting story, but they were too nervous to approach anyone and share it.
The Card Dealer
This person gets a 0/10 on quality of conversation but 10/10 on business card sleight of hand. They will approach you with a glossy card in one hand and an open hand ready for your card. Despite only speaking for a minute before heading off for him next
victim contact, he will send a bland LinkedIn message saying how much he loved talking with you. In most cases, you can probably toss their card in the trash. Your rented apartment doesn’t need a new roof, you don’t need supplemental insurance, and your employer already has “IT solutions.”
Honestly, these people are the worst. These guys are probably the same people who shoot their shot in the reply section of a viral tweet after seeing a girl reply. It’s a desperate attempt at glory, and a networking event or conference is no exception. They’re scouting out the most important person in the room and will push anyone out of the way to get to their target. The best part about these people is watching their plan erupt into flames every single time. If the person they want to talk to is the main speaker at a conference, celebrity, or CEO at a company retreat, there’s a 100 percent chance their target will completely forget the Paparazzi’s interaction in under 10 minutes. Skip these people in general.
Unfortunately, this guy was me for some time. Going to an event that’s focused on networking with other professionals is intimidating, especially when you go alone. So, how did I reduce that discomfort level? By hanging out with the first decent person I met, of course. The contacts he or she meets is, therefore, the people you meet. You can use prior conversations with your new “BFF 4 Lyfe” as templates for new conversations, and sending that person a LinkedIn request isn’t as awkward since you “hung out” for at least an hour. Don’t be this guy. You are the equivalent of a barnacle on a boat. You may enjoy the free ride, but they are hoping to scrape you off as soon as possible.
If you can avoid being one of these people, you’ll be just fine. People will most likely remember you more if you go in there relaxed and ditch the robotic formal persona. And if all else fails, be sure to take a shot beforehand. Works every time..