Remember I told you there were a few things that were not on the list of networking basics. Here they are, and the reasons why I don’t consider them necessary.
Adding everyone you meet to Facebook (or other social marketing tool)
As I’ve said, I’m more of an introvert to begin with. But even if I was not, adding potential business contacts I just met to my personal Facebook account is a bad idea. In the first place, Facebook isn’t a very good contact storage solution. Finding people again in a year or two might be difficult if you can not remember the exact name and need to wade through a couple thousand names. Secondly, if they don’t really know you they might unfriend you after a few weeks of photos of your dog and discussions about your favorite ball team. Why? If they use Facebook for business they are not going to want to waste newsfeed with personal stuff. It’s better to find out if they have a Fan or Business page and connect to that through your business page.
Handing out copies of your business card to everyone
You can do this, and in some industries it is still essential. But don’t feel you have to have a business card to be successful at networking. Building your network is more about who you can contact than who will contact you. Business cards allow the other person to get in touch with you, and in some cases this will be necessary – so always have a few with you. But most of the information you collect won’t be the type for a business card, so be ready to get that information too. And be sure not to let handing out a business card take the place of really talking to a participant and learning about what they have to offer.
Focusing on meeting the stars of the conference
Big name speakers are exciting to meet, but probably not your best networking connections. Why? Usually, everyone at the conference (including you) already knows about their programs and what they have to offer. Meeting and talking to these speakers might be very motivational and inspiring, but is not likely to do much to build your network of new information and opportunities. A lunch with a group of participants you met in the morning session is more likely to give you more new information – provided you ask the right questions.
Attending every lecture
I love hearing the speakers at conferences. I am usually challenged to think about things in a new way or gather some new information. However, if I fill every second of my day with lecture I miss opportunities to meet and talk with the other participants – the key to building a good network. Instead, be familiar enough with the conference agenda to know what speakers you don’t want to miss and what time slots have the least interesting sessions for you. If there is nothing interesting being talked about, find someone interesting to talk to.
Did I miss anything? What networking mistakes do you see people make at conferences?