Things You Should Never Do – Seriously! And A Few You Should Do – Seriously!
Last weekend I attended one of my favorite events of the year, WordCamp. WordCamp Phoenix is always well put together event full of awesome people and fantastic information. And this year I was inspired to talk a bit about it here so that you can all come and join me next year when it comes around again. Whenever I attend a large-scale in person networking event I come home with a long list of contacts and notes which is great. Not so great is I generally come home thinking about things I’ve heard or seen, that are just wrong. This time it inspired me to share a few of those dos and don’ts with you.
Never Do This –
Don’t give me your business card unless you want to connect
– Seriously, there is not a prize for most cards given away, and if we haven’t even said 2 words to each other your card is much more likely to hit a trashcan then it is to find my contact list. Networking is not about how many cards you handed out. Honestly I handed over maybe 10 cards all weekend. And those were all people who I had valuable conversations with and will connect with again. I hate coming home with a pile of cards, if I can’t look at it and immediately know who I gave it to and what conversation we had it is trash. Easy as that.
Don’t criticize others at the event
– This is ESPECIALLY true for events like WordCamp when everyone is there to learn and it attracts people at different levels. Just because someone is a developer and not a designer or the other way around doesn’t make them unworthy of attending the event. The best part of these types of events is that you run into people with different experiences. Learn from them! Oh and this includes the hard-working and amazing people who put the events together and those who volunteer. If you see them thank them, they give up a lot and work very hard to put these things together.
Don’t be afraid to share
– One of the best tools for networking this weekend was Twitter. I probably connected with more people by chatting and sharing information under the event’s hashtag (#wcphx) then I did face to face. Also once I connected face to face with those I had met by tweeting it was like we were old friends, conversation was a lot more pleasant. Bonus tip – this can be a great thing to do prior to an event as well, not only will it make conversations easier but attending period can be overwhelming when you walk into a group not knowing anyone. This solves that, in a lot of cases you’re more excited to attend because you’ll be able to connect face to face with these new contacts.
Always Do This –
Talk TO People
– Networking is not always about just telling someone what you do and asking what they do. Really have a conversation, I talked to people about everything from Young Female Entrepreneurs to Jem and the Holograms, to the Phoenix Coyotes, to Baseball, oh yeah and about what I do and what they do. Just like content is king online, conversation is king when networking.
– If after hearing what you do someone asks for your feedback on something, give it – just do it. This is just demonstrating your expertise, now there is no reason to be superior or a know it all. It’s simply about sharing your knowledge. I had a few questions come up and I gave them a brief answer and pointed them to my blog because I had recently written about the topic. After doing all this, the person was not handed a bill for my consulting services. You know why? Because the conversation lead to something a lot more valuable. If they have more questions like that in the future or need help on a project that falls in my wheelhouse they will think of me.
– There is no need to pretend at these events, for one these are most likely strangers – and if you chose not to see them again then you probably won’t. Be honest about who you are and what you do. Honesty is always the best way to success. Now let me be clear, you should not be honest without a filter. No need to laugh in the guys face who hands you a card and begs you to call him with work next week. That would just be mean – seriously he might cry, no one wants to see that. Take the card nod politely and walk away slowly (it’s never safe to spook the desperate).
Ok those are my BIG ones – I’d love it if you dropped into the comments and told us your favorite dos and don’ts of networking.