I came across a posting by Jeff Wilson that talks about the 5 Conversation Mistakes When Networking at Business and Social Events . I found this most interesting and decided to re-post it here so more people may be able to benefit from this information.
Most business people agree that networking is a great way to make professional contacts—but only if you do it the right way. However, make one of the following conversation faux pas and your career and professional image could be headed for trouble. Here are five career-crunching networking mistakes people make when attending social or business events.
1. Chatting for too long with your officemates
Shooting the breeze for a few minutes at networking events with your colleagues is all part of the fun, but if you stay in your closed circle of friends for too long, new coworkers, prospects or others will quickly cast you and your colleagues as cliquish, disinterested and not open to outsiders. Also, staying in one place too long, whether you are talking to someone or nibbling on the appetizers will make you appear shy, self-conscious and lacking confidence. It’s better to briefly chat with your buddies and then move to different areas of the room to introduce yourself to others you want to get to know better.
2. Asking more than three closed-ended questions in a row
Lots of networking takes place during informal get-togethers after work or at work-related social events. Avoid peppering people with one question after the other. “Do you work on our office?” “How long have you worked here?” “Who is your supervisor?” Yikes! You’re networking—not conducting a job interview or interrogation! Asking three or more closed ended questions in a row will certainly stifle any conversation, make others feel uncomfortable and definitely not win you any communication awards. Instead, show interest and a desire to find common interests by asking open-ended questions that encourage others to elaborate and reveal free information. Then based on what you hear that interests you, respond with follow-up questions and information of your own.
3. Talking too much or too little about yourself
“So enough about my job! Let me show you pictures of my kids (cats, car, etc.)!” Sure people love to talk about themselves, their pets, kids and grandchildren, but if you are the one doing all the talking at a social or business function, you’re probably boring the other person to tears! On the other hand, if you are too tight-lipped, then people may see you as secretive, defensive or lacking interest and enthusiasm. The remedy here is to exchange information about various light subjects at about the same rate so that you both know what each other enjoys and likes to talk about.
4. Complaining or gossiping about colleagues or clients
You might be tempted and it may even be well-deserved, but never get involved in a gripe session about a colleague or client while attending a networking event or social/business get-together. As obvious as this blunder is, people seem to do it all the time, especially after a few drinks. Even if you’re not the one making the crass remarks, if word gets back to the “offending person” you will still pay the price long after the party is over. If possible, politely excuse yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible. However, if you find yourself stuck with this group, then take the initiative and bring up something that moves the discussion to a more positive topic.
5. Talking about politics, controversial subjects or sporting events (that’s right!)
It never fails—there always seems to be at least one person at the social or business affair who likes to snag others into political “discussions,” offer longwinded lectures about his or her pet social issues, or wants to debate the outcome of a soccer match. (Sports fans, watch out for this one!) The trap often begins with the seemingly innocent words, “Don’t you think that …?” or “In my humble opinion ….” or “You people always …!” However, if you rebut with even a few words you’ll be in for an earful—and not the kind of conversation that most people at networking events enjoy or benefit from. Furthermore, discussing controversial topics in this situation often polarizes people who otherwise get along. The best thing to say when someone brings up a controversial subject or challenges your views at a business or social event is to say, “I think I’ll just keep my opinions to myself about that.” Then it’s up to you to change the discussion to a less volatile topic.
Social and Business Get-togethers Offer Golden Opportunities to Hone Your Communication Skills
Social and business get-togethers are great place to network, make small talk, establish rapport and build better relationships with your colleagues, acquaintances and clients. When you talk about light, upbeat subjects that lead to sharing common professional and personal interests, goals and experiences you’ll have plenty to talk about while boosting your career and honing your communication skills!
I would add that when you are networking you are not only trying to see who can help you but who you can help. BNI’s central, guiding philosophy is the concept that giving benefits others and in turn, “Givers Gain.”
Geeks On Call has always strived to help others with their IT and all-around computer needs. From helping a client decide on a new computer, purchase a computer, install a new system and of course providing maintenance to keep the systems running efficiently.
I hope passing these tips along from Jeff benefit you in your endeavor of helping others.
Carlos Soto – 1800 905 GEEK
Geeks On Call franchise owner
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