Business and networking events can be a big deal, especially if you’re attending one for the first time. You’ll likely be meeting new faces and some of those will include future colleagues, mentors, employers, and depending on the event or situation, even business partners and investors. So how exactly should you be conducting yourself at such events? Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of the Do’s & Don’ts of Networking Events.
Ready? Here we go!
Do’s of Networking Events
1. Do your research
Similar to a job interview, doing your research is by far one of the most important things you can do before going to any networking event. It’s always good to get a sense of the type of people that will be attending, the recommended dress code (you can gauge this on the type of event), the food or drinks that will be available, and the keynote/guest speakers, if any. Try to get yourself grounded as much as possible. You’ll thank us later.
2. Do be aware of others
No matter the situation, it’s always good to be aware of others around you. Particularly, you’ll want to pay attention to people’s mannerisms and how they are interacting with one another. If you’re attending your first networking event, you can learn a lot just by people-watching. Besides, it’s also really fun. Just don’t go mimicking the girl who’s overly loud or the guy who’s camping out wherever the drinks are.
3. Do take notes
If you’re attending a business event where there are a few speakers related to industry or any professional insight, it will serve you good to take notes. You don’t have to go writing down everything word for word, but for starters, it’s good to even just write down the speakers name, their company, and the topic of their discussion. If you want to talk with them afterwards, having their name and writing down the topic of their speech may give you something to break the ice with.
4. Do introduce yourself and mingle
Remember, you’re going to these events to meet people and introduce yourself. So that’s exactly what you should be doing. If you’ve already done your research (point #1) and briefly observed people’s behaviours (point #2) then you should be fine in terms of who you’ll likely want to talk to and how you can approach them. Key points here are to be confident and make sure you give direct eye contact, it goes a long way.
Don’ts of Networking Events
1. Don’t show up empty handed
This is at the top of the list of Don’ts because it’s probably one of the most important ones. You should always be prepared and always bring something with you in the form of a notebook (if you’re taking notes), and especially business cards for when you’re networking and exchanging contacts. And for those who have told you that you don’t need a business card these days… Well, just watch them scramble the next time a potential employer or investor asks them for one.
2. Don’t pig-out at the buffet
Seriously, you don’t want to be that person that’s just stuffing their face the whole time. It’s good to grab a small plate and have a quick bite, but hoarding the cheese just isn’t a good look. For one, it’s tough to talk to anyone when you’re busy chewing the entire time. Not to mention, you’ll be more likely to spill something and make a mess of your clothing. All around, just not a good situation. If you’re serious about the networking, then our advice to you is to have a quick bite to eat before you arrive. Unless you’re going for a free meal, then by all means, eat as much as you want.
3. Don’t get drunk
Again, a BIG nope. It’s more than fine to indulge in a beverage or two, but try to keep it classy and professional. Not to mention that it’ll be a little hard to make a good impression or even introduce yourself to others if you’re stumbling around and having a tough time stringing together a sentence. This is where observing others’ behaviours will come into play and help you out (think Spidey-senses). If you’re unsure whether you should even have one drink, then it’s best to stay away.
4. Don’t barge into conversations
This just never ends up doing anyone, any good. In fact, inserting yourself into conversations where it’s best to wait for an appropriate time, ends up making it awkward and uncomfortable for everyone. If you’re looking to kill a conversation and the mood, then this is the way to go. Do your research and observe. Once you’ve done those, you’ll have a good sense of when it’s appropriate for you to join in on the conversation.
It’s time for you to put these Do’s & Don’ts to work at the next business/networking event you decide to attend. Just remember to: Do your research; Do be aware of others; Do take notes; and Do introduce yourself. And on the flip side (and for the sake of your reputation): Don’t show up empty handed; Don’t pig-out at the buffet; Don’t get drunk; and definitely Don’t barge into conversations.
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