Don’t Stand So Close To Me

Networking. Sometimes it seems like it’s all we do as we hurry around from this meeting to that event and in-between try to complete our “real” work. If you’re a solopreneur you know exactly what I mean and unless you outsource much of your business or have folks to whom you delegate work it can seem like an endless juggle.

As someone that sees herself as a “major” networker I feel like I have more than a little bit of credibility when I serve up three of my pet peeves and how you can be certain to not be guilty of these “networking nasties.”

I give you for your consideration:

1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me.
The scene is pretty familiar. You go to an event and mill around shaking hands and engaging in conversations, trying to balance your drink while holding on to your plate of food while still maintaining eye contact and assuming the right body language. Things are going just as well as can be expected and then you think “why are you standing so close to me?” Yep, your fellow networker is standing as close as they would be if you were on the Lexington Avenue local and it’s a bit disconcerting to say the least. Be conscious of where you are standing in proximity to others.

This isn’t the time to be rubbing shoulders in the very real sense. Maintain enough space so that everyone is comfortable and if you see the person to whom you are speaking start to move back or to the side reposition yourself so that there is less discomfort.

2. Why Do You Need That Canapé Anyway?
Networking events usually span a couple of hours and then they are over. Why be distracted by the food when you have a roomful of people to meet and connections to be made? Managing a plate of food becomes quite difficult when you are also trying to shake hands and make eye contact. Spills and drips are also a concern as it is difficult to make a good first impression when there is bruschetta all over your shirt. (Why does anyone select that difficult to eat appetizer anyway?)

Best solution. Grab a bite before you head to the event and hold off from eating until you leave. No one ever starved in a two-hour period at a networking function.

3. Don’t Monopolize the Conversation.
Everyone goes to networking events with the same idea in mind – meet new business people and expand their contacts and connections. The idea is to have an equal engagement whereby BOTH individuals share some information in an interactive conversation. On the surface pretty much everyone agrees with the concept yet in reality there are people that simply don’t know when to stop talking. On and on they go until the point when the only way to get things to move in another direction is to interrupt and disengage from the conversation.

The best approach at a networking event is to ask questions, uncover interesting tidbits and synergies and make plans to connect at some later point in time. Monopolizing is a total waste of networking time and is rude as well. Be completely in tune with how much time you are speaking and if you find yourself running off at the mouth simply start to ask questions.

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