Pitfalls of Networking Events

During a recent networking event, I realized that although I had only been working for a few months after graduating college, my hand shaking skills were not in tip top shape. There were a few things that I said that might have sounded awkward to someone who had never met me before. I certainly did not do anything inappropriate, but I am not sure I was on my A Greeting Game.

Working in an office for eight hours a day five days a week gets a person into a routine. The people you speak to on a daily basis rarely change. Except for some turnover or the clients you may call, we feel we have communication down to a T, which leads us to lose some of our interpersonal skills. You might be great speaking with someone on the phone, you might even work in customer service, in which case all you do is talk to people, but it’s easy to forget that face-to-face communication may be difficult if you’re used to speaking to the same ten people by the water cooler about TV shows on the night before.

  1. Taking Over the Conversation

This was a hypothetical networking event, but let’s face it, any event we go to that has multiple people we have never met before has networking potential. As such, you certainly do not want people to think you are not interested in them. There are certainly things that you can do to insure that you’re not standing there, telling people about your job or pet for too long. When a person you’re speaking to gets bored they will begin to look around the room. They might ask to leave to refill their glass. Anything that shows a waning interest should give you a good clue that it might be time to switch topics. The easiest way to do so would be to say: “Has this ever happened to you?” If you really feel like the only reason you were still talking is because you’re trying to fill dead space, maybe it’s a good idea to walk over to another group with your discussion partner. This way, the person you are speaking to knows you are still interested in them but you have also picked up on their subtle clues. Instead of filling time with nothing, expand your network effectively.

2. Don’t forget to Circulate

This brings me to my next point. People attending a gathering, and this is the case with human psychology, tend to stick with a group that forms early into the evening. Humans get anxious around people they do not know and after getting through their anxiety once, might not want to do so again.  Plus, why move onto something else if you are enjoying the conversation and the people in your standing circle? But again, you’re networking. Do not give people dirty looks as they attempt to enter your circle. Make sure you make people attempting to speak to you feel comfortable, like your collective is open to new ideas. It’s already much harder for one person to join a group because now not only are they worried about making one impression, they are worried everyone else in the circle might be judging them. Networking is nerve-racking enough, do not make it harder by creating a clique. If you notice that you keep creating circles around yourself, make sure you step away. If you do so repeatedly, congratulations! you are what they call “the life of the party,” and you should definitely be using your great people skills to their maximum potential.

3. Complaining

Do not stand around complaining that you do not have a job or that the event is just too dull. You never know if your next employer is at the event. Also, as mentioned before, networking is not really about your personal preferences, it’s about socializing, having a good time and making connections. People might care if you prefer to live in New York vs New Jersey, but they certainly don’t care to know that you would have preferred not to spend money on a ticket that does not at least offer a free drink. Which brings me to my last point…

4. Do not Drink more than a glass or your best minimum.

You might be able to handle your liquor but how many people at this event know that? Honestly, when a person repeatedly go back to the bar and order more beers, a lot of questions arise. Is that person is not comfortable in their own skin? or Why are they wasting money like that (bar drinks are pricey) at an event for meeting people and holding discussions? It certainly will not put your best foot forward at an event that’s about presenting the best of what you have to offer to someone’s network.


What you should do is have fun, socialize, exchange business cards, follow up when you get home and of course, do not forget to Smile.


Please, Please Just Email Me Back

There’s a pet peeve that office people quickly pick up and share across the border—people not answering emails. Like any other other relationship, the one between you and your recruiter or you and your financial advisor, etc relies on communication. We are all responsible for keeping it up. All that I ask is that you send an email. I can even disregard the fact that I don’t get responses to emails that say “please email me when you receive this.” I am talking about the people that do not show up and call or even send me a “hey I can’t make it” in the line of her email. You might not like the person you are communicating with, but just like it’s rude to ignore someone standing right next to you, calling out your name, it’s certainly rude to ignore their little envelope on your screen. Being rude really never gets you anywhere and might also gets a little note on your contact that says: “did not call.”

What to do and Why

           If you can’t be somewhere because you did not think you were a fit

Email saying: “I do not feel like this opportunity is a good fit for me. Please feel free to contact me/I will contact you in the future if need be.”

I understand I did not exactly resonate with you and that is OK, but let me know. If nothing else, I might reevaluate my approach. I am not going to harass you if you tell me that you would like to contact me next time you need my help. I do not like bothering people because that is not a good business practice. Plus, if you do not want to talk to me now, I know there’s a good chance you won’t change your mind in a week. I will give you space, promise.

          If you did not like the opportunity I had for you

Email me letting me know what you would prefer: “ I understand that you currently offer XYZ, and I do not feel like that would be the best fit for me, please feel free to contact me if ABC ever comes across your desk or if you know someone who can help.”

It’s a small world. Networking is key everywhere. With today’s unemployment rates and general financial gaps, chances are you will be running into the same people. You do not know if your next potential job has already employed someone who has heard your name and knows they do not want to deal with you. The label No Show, stays with you for a long time. Think about your encounters with people. Unfortunately, the bad ones stick sore in your memory longer than the good ones. If you do not give someone the tiny piece of respect that is communication, it won’t be quickly forgotten and your networking will definitely be hindered.

          Really, just send an email

Email is a really easy way to communicate. If you find that you get jittery making a call or  you have a tough time saying No, email gives you the perfect opportunity to do so without putting too much of your ego/confidence on the line. The bottom line is: if you ignore me, I will definitely ignore you. We leave in a world full of people. No one is 100% self sufficient. One simple act of kindness goes a long way. Letting someone who is working for you or with you on something know you are indisposed shows them his/her effort is still appreciated even though it’s not the right fit right now.



Just So You Know:

When hiring managers were asked to name the most common and damaging interview mistakes a candidate can make, 51% listed dressing inappropriately. 49% cited badmouthing a former boss as the worst offense, while 48% said appearing disinterested. Arrogance (44%), insufficient answers (30%) and not asking good questions (29%) were also top answers.

You Should:

  •  Dress appropriately for the industry. It doesn’t hurt to be extra conservative.
  •  Arrive at least 10 minutes early (or earlier if the employer instructs for you to do so).
  •  Treat other people you encounter with courtesy and respect. You never know who is asked for an opinion when the hiring decision is made.
  •  Offer a firm handshake, make eye contact, and have a friendly expression when you are greeted by your interviewer.
  •  Ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question. Don’t lie: If the conversation drifts to a topic you’re not knowledgeable about. Admit you don’t know the answer and then explain how you would go about finding a solution. Displaying your problem-solving skills is better than babbling about something you don’t understand.
  •  Exhibit a positive attitude. The interviewer is evaluating you as a potential co-worker. Behave like someone you would want to work with.
  •  After the interview, make notes right away so you don’t forget important details.
  •  Collect business cards, so that you can connect with the interviewer on professional social networking sites.
  •  Draft a Thank-You letter promptly and email a copy of it to your recruiter for an extra set of proof-reading eyes.
  •  Don’t make negative comments about previous employers (or others).
  •  Don’t chew gum, smell like smoke or wear too much perfume.
  •  Turn your phone off before the interview. Checking a text or silencing your phone during the interview looks unprofessional.
  •  Do some research: knowing small details about the company you want to work for shows your commitment and preparedness.
  •  Keep it professional: although interviewers often try to create a comfortable setting to ease the job seeker’s nerves, you shouldn’t forget you’re trying to get the job not make friends.
  •  Expect to hear questions such as “What’s your biggest weakness?” “Why do you want to work here?” “Tell me about yourself.” “Why did you leave your last job?” These open-ended questions are harder to answer than they sound, so think about your responses before the interview.
  • Don’t take your parents or your pet (an assistance animal is not a pet in this circumstance), to an interview.

Make Sure to Ask Questions. Such As:

  •  What do you consider to be your firm’s most important assets?
  •   What can you tell me about your new product or plans for growth?
  •  What were the major strengths and weaknesses of the last person who held this job?
  •  What types of skills do you not already have onboard that you’re looking to fill with a new hire?
  •  What is the overall structure of the company?
  •  What would you consider to be the most important aspects of this job?
  •  What are the skills and attributes you value most for someone being hired for this position?
  •  Could you describe a typical day or week in this position?
  •  What are the most immediate challenges of the position that need to be addressed in the first three months?
  •  How will I be evaluated and how often?
  •  What are the next steps in the interview process?

Good Luck and find us on facebook! facebook.com/winstonstaffnj for more tips, ideas, funny stories and more importantly, job postings.