Things You Probably Shouldn’t Do At Your Next Networking Event
Or, Sarah’s attempts at networking examined
I’ve been freelancing for almost two months now and it’s been a huge opportunity for me to learn new things and experience a bigger world.
One of the things I did, that I’ve never done before, was attend a networking event for freelancers. I was nervous about this, but in the end it wasn’t that bad. I even met someone cool who would become a new client! No one was mean to me and it was interesting getting to hear from more experienced freelancers about their journeys.
So, if you’re a freelancer, I definitely recommend getting off your butt and going out into the real world for a little bit, even if it makes you nervous.
However, there are a handful of things you probably shouldn’t do, that I didn’t know about before the event.
So, in an effort to help you learn from my mistakes, here’s a list of things you shouldn’t do at your next networking event:
Wear the kicky shoulder zebra brooch you’re so excited about.
See, I’m actually torn on this one. The thing is, the brooch is SOOO cool. At the same time, if you wear it, it’s all anybody wants to talk about. However, having an obvious topic of conversation to discuss isn’t the worst thing. Yet, that topic should probably be your killer skills and not the creature sitting on your shoulder.
Talk about otters for more than five minutes.
I KNOW. This is hard for me, too. However, most people at freelancing events, as much as they might want to talk about otters, know they should spend their time comparing SEO strategies.
Chew more than one piece of gum at a time.
It’s easy to get paranoid about your breath when you’re meeting new people, but try to keep it down to one piece of gum. Otherwise, you start making weird smacking noises and people look at you in a way that isn’t mean, exactly, but also doesn’t seem assured of your competence.
Forget to bring business cards.
Whoops! Sometimes, living in the digital world, it’s easy to forget that physical items still serve a purpose. I hadn’t even thought about getting business cards printed, but after four different people asked me for mine, I realized I should probably get on that.
I went home and designed a business card right away.
Stress yourself out about showing up late.
I do this all the time. I’m ridiculously punctual and sometimes, if I know I’m going to be late, I get super anxious.
Turns out punctuality doesn’t matter when you’re going to a networking event. Tons of people show up late and the first part of the event just involves wandering around and talking and trying not to drink too much.
So don’t stress yourself out for no reason.
Forget your LinkedIn password.
LinkedIn makes me crazy.
It started when they began sending messages to my work email address, an email address I never attached to my profile. Then they started trying to connect me to people I knew, but that they shouldn’t have any way of knowing I knew. So, I don’t exactly trust them and I typically only access my account through my home desktop.
Turns out, everyone wants to connect through LinkedIn immediately and not having your password or access to your account makes you look like a total n00b.
Seem too eager to grab the wine they offer you.
If someone asks you if you’d like a glass of wine, it’s best to say “yes, please” instead of “OMG, YES! PUT IT IN MY HAND RIGHT NOW!”. They’ll also notice if you drink it too quickly.
I know this could be hard for you, but try to seem bored by the wine instead of acting like it’s the best part of your day.
So, that was my experience networking! I’m definitely going to try it again and I’ll be applying these tips next time (except maybe the otter one). Have you attended any freelancing events? Do you have any additional advice?