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?