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.

Be Generous

– 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.

Be Honest

– 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.

Love this? Share it!
Nikki Steele

I’m huge on the “be generous” task. There were so many lovely people at the conference, but the ones that really were really engaging and relevant were those who were so open with all of their help and ideas. I’m thinking Joe Manna and Ann McAuley (and of course you!).

I would add to both the twitter and talking entry that during the conference itself and the in-between times, it was so important to actually stop tweeting and take a moment to talk to the people around you. I like to shove my head down into my tablet so I can appear busy, and well always wrestling with the introvert thing, but I always found such lovely people when I looked up from the screen.

Thanks for your tips! Seems like I didn’t flub up too much!

    Stacey Harris

    Thanks for sharing Nikki! So true, social media should be a tool to help make the in person connections easier, not to avoid them!

    Generosity is key in so much – it was so much fun meeting you at WordCamp.

Jules Taggart

Loved this post, Stacey! Great tip about networking before, during and after an event via the event hashtag. It’s a perfect way to break the ice and have a more personal interaction when you do meet in person.

    Stacey Harris

    Thanks Jules! I especially love that tool pre-event. It can take some of the scary out of walking into a room full of people you don’t know.

Kim of The Made Thing

Oh gosh, the second one. I went to WordCamp here in Northwest Arkansas and there were gobs of meanie women talking trash about other women. Seriously WTF?! It automatically made me 1-stop following their blogs 2-not want to work with them 3-lose all respect for them I had, even if they were a “big deal”

    Stacey Harris

    Thanks for stopping by Kim!

    I agree – no one wins from tearing someone else down. I find those meanie women are usually so insecure they’re just trying to project that focus on someone else. Good for you for recognizing it and getting yourself away from them!


Hi Stacey
These principles can so be applied in life in general as well. Thanks for reminding us to be kind, generous and empathetic at all times.
Love Saskia

    Stacey Harris

    Thanks Saskia,

    It’s so true, sometimes it’s easy for us to forget those basic principals translate not just to business but life.

Mother's Helper

I like the “always do” points! Talking TO people is a great one. The last networking event I went to there were a few people who had booths who I wanted to connect with but it was hard to get a meaningful conversation going. Maybe I shouldn’t have started off by explaining what I do… I must have bored them into not having much to say haha

    Stacey Harris

    I doubt you bored them, the other person has to be open to the conversation as well and working a booth is not necessarily the ideal time to chat. I’d suggest connecting with them and letting them know you’re interested in connecting, then find a time that works for both of you to actually talk.

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