Networking at business events and conferences is a delicate art. Be too enthusiastic, and you become the over-eager social pariah everyone runs away from. But be too intimidated to approach people, and you’re likely to be forgotten completely.
Now we’re not pretending to be experts at networking – we just make the cards, you’re the ones who hand them out! But we do know a little bit about making new friends – so we’ve come up with some MOO team Do’s and Don’ts for making a good first impression. But we want a bigger list – so if you’re a successful start-up owner, CEO, freelancer or simply really good at professional networking, get in touch with your top tips – email us and tell us how it’s done.
MOO’s Top Networking Do’s and Don’ts
DO look presentable
It sounds pretty obvious, but if you’ve been working all day, don’t forget to take a shower (or at least spritz!) and change your clothes before you head off to an event. Carry breath mints or a spare toothbrush as well – it’s the little things that make the biggest impressions.
DON’T be late
With a networking event there is no such thing as fashionably late. This isn’t about how cool you are – this is about business. If you aren’t on time or even slightly early, you may miss out on meeting the people you really need to meet.
DO skip the food
Eat before you go to any event – it’ll save you queuing up for food, and wasting time that could be better spent talking to future clients or employers. Plus, nobody’s going to want to do business with someone who may or may not have sauce down their shirt.
DON’T stick to a script
If you’re parroting off the same personal PR to every person you meet, you’ll get bored, and so will they. Know yourself and your business well enough that you can ad-lib around other conversational topics and be more genuine.
DO break away from the group
It can be more enjoyable to attend events with friends, but it will hold you back if you use them as a social buffer for the real reason you’re there. You may find approaching people difficult – but having no clients is harder, so break away from the group and start talking.
DO bring memorable cards with you!
You didn’t see this one coming, did you? It’s true though, original cards will help you make a big impression. We love Chris Spooner’s cards below. How could you forget him? We have more ideas here if you too want to make your cards stand out.
Got some networking tips? We’d love to hear from you – email us or post a comment below.
Networking Tip: Keep your business cards handy. I love the MOO leather mini-card holder. I attach it to my purse strap and whenever someone asks for my card it only takes a second to open the holder and pull out my cards. I usually look through the different graphics I have to see which one to give them and then often they ask for more than one. This can add a fun, personal element to your networking conversations.
Author of Power Networking, People Power and Professional Networking for Dummies
I’m now bringing along business card holders to hand out along with my cards to make it convenient for my referral sources to give to their clients. It’s an extra touch that makes it a little easier for them to display and keep my cards handy.
It also helps to make the cards funny. I put my cartoons on my moo cards and now even my regular clients who don’t need my cards ask for them. Sometimes they even ask for their favourites or 4 or 5 different ones!
The last point really rings true for me. When at a conference people generally get a stack of cards and many of them get thrown in a drawer as soon as it’s all over. By having a memorable card you may get picked out easier when they shuffle through the deck looking for something. I had some cards made from Moo with Brian Taylor images. Sadly Moo doesn’t do these anymore but they were an absolute hit when I handed them out
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