One of the things people like me always harp on is that you need to network all the time, whether you're employed or not. But I will be the first to admit that when I look back, there are things I wish I had done differently in my own networking efforts.
Like not have a glass of wine on an empty stomach after a seven-hour flight. Because I now know that it makes me talk about stupid stuff for 20 minutes like how one of my cats has terrible hairballs-and-I-don't-know-what-to-do-about-it-blah-blah-blah.
Or then nearly falling asleep during the opening remarks at the conference because the glass of wine on an empty stomach, followed by fistfuls of cheese puffs and chicken wings, has made me sleepier than a handful of Ambien. I'm sure my jaws cracking with each huge yawn was a really personal branding success moment for me.
So, when I offer you networking tips, they come from experience. I've included not only my own goofs, but those of others. May they save you from the same networking regrets.
Things you should never say:
1. Any stories or comments about how you hate/dislike your boss/colleagues. Any bitch sessions about work should be confined to your back patio, while consuming a keg with your closest buds.
2. Tales of how you chewed the ass of a subordinate/colleague/vendor. Save your badass tales for going with your significant other to your 37th "Journey" concert.
3. How you find ways to goof off at work. Sharing stories of how you gamble all day online or have rigged the office vending machine to give you Moutain Dews for free is not something to share with a professional contact. If you'll rip off Mountain Dews, who is to say you won't be the next Bernie Madoff?
4. How you think religious compounds are the wave of the future and you're thinking of telecommuting from one in Nebraska or Rhode Island. If you want to stop a conversation cold at a professional event, talk about religion. This is a subject best shared with members of your faith community.
5. Your kid's bowel habits. Or cat's hair balls. Or your receding hairline or underarm razor rash. All in the TMI category, and subjects that no one wants to discuss with or without a full keg beside them. These conversations should be shared with your mother, who is required under law to listen to them and offer advice.
What are some other topics you don't think should be discussed while networking?
You are right-on with this post. I belong to an organization that has monthly networking events. In order to get as much out of these events as possible, most members have learned to avoid sitting next to certain members. Why? These members are huge bores who monopolize the conversation.
In a recent post on my blog I gave the following tips:
What not to talk about at a networking event (I have witnessed all of these):
How smart you are.
How smart, talented and gifted your children are.
A minute by minute playback of the European vacation your family took in the 80’s.
Also, don’t direct your conversation to one person, talk to the entire table. (He or she wants to hear what everyone is talking about not your problems.)
Don’t monopolize the conversation with talk of your workplace.
Don’t describe in detail the spreadsheet you can’t get to balance.
Don’t give more than one hard luck story. (You will be perceived as a train-wreck.)
For example: you knocked the side-view mirror off your car while backing out of your garage this morning after telling us you ran out of gas the week before. (This was a real conversation.)
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