So you’ve been invited to a networking event, or you signed up. Whatever you’ve done, you know that your attendance is expected at a certain networking event. This is cause for celebration. You’re taking the bull by the horns and positively affecting the rest of your professional career by meeting other professionals.
That being said, many people end up having networking events be less than positive experiences due to easily alterable behaviors. The truth is networking isn’t so much about what you do, but about you. For some this is very scary, the idea that people are evaluating you and not your work can make you feel awfully vulnerable.
Except, just like your work, you can control the message you put out to others. With your work you control the quality of the job being done. With networking, you’re just controlling the quality of the message you send to others about you. It’s the same idea–just with different applications!
Here are three behaviors that will help you succeed at every networking event:
- Be Yourself – There’s no greater turn-off to potential friends and associates than being a person who isn’t truly you. Don’t do this. Just be the person you are–for better or worse. People will appreciate how genuine you are, and that goes a long way towards gaining friends.
- Work on Flaws – Just because you’re being yourself doesn’t mean that you’re going to let the bad parts of your personality just hang out. If you’re a big talker, learn to listen. Conversely, if you’re shy, force yourself to engage others. Fixing your flaws isn’t dishonest. It’s self-improvement!
- Have a Good Time – In New Orleans there’s a saying: laissez les bon temps roulen. This means let the good times roll. Your job is to have a good time, enjoy meeting people. Don’t enjoy it too much, though; that’s how bad reputations start. But if your goal is to have a good time and meet interesting people, networking isn’t very hard.
There are many different forms of advice regarding networking and how to do it, but when you’re at these networking events, the most important thing to do is to demonstrate the right behaviors. More than anything, how you behave at an event guarantees your success more than any resume or professional qualification.