Mix and Mingle

Networking dos and don’ts

 Cultivating people who can be helpful to one professionally and socially takes skill and practice. The importance of networking is crucial in forming business connections, gathering information, making new friends and enriching your career.  In his immortal classic,  How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes “you can win more friends in 2 months by becoming genuinely interested in them than you can in two years by trying to get them interested in you.”   Your ability to achieve  and succeed in life  can be determined by how well you interact with others.  Below are a few dos and don’ts for succeeding at a networking event. 


  • Listen more than you talk. Ask questions of the people you meet — and then listen to what they have to say. They’ll appreciate it, and eventually some of them will ask you about yourself.
  • Greet people with enthusiasm.
  • The effect of a smile is powerful – use yours.
  • Make the effort to remember people’s names.  Do be afraid to ask them to repeat it if you did not hear it the first time.  People love hearing their own names.
  • Bring business cards. Bring plenty of cards but wait until you’re asked for one before you hand it out.
  • Mingle. This one should go without saying, but the temptation to hang back with friends or others you already know can be strong. Resist it — you’re there to meet new people.
  • Dress for the occasion. At most networking events, people are there to meet potential clients, vendors, etc. Dress like a professional and project professionalism at all times.
  • Follow up promptly and personally. Send a quick email the next day to the people you met (and whose cards you got) to thank them for the interaction.
  • Keep it short. When asked about what you do, give a short version of the answer. It’s always better to leave people wanting to know more!
  • Get prepared. Create a tip sheet or article you can send to people you meet who express interest in your field, especially if they’re specific to one of your areas of expertise.


  • Don’t interrupt. Never interrupt a conversation already in progress just to introduce yourself. Wait for a break in the conversation.
  • Don’t hand out cards uninvited. Wait until someone asks for it. Not everyone will — but enough people will.
  • Don’t automatically add people to your mailing list. Don’t harvest the email address and add them to your list unless you’ve gotten permission — that’s spamming. Instead, casually ask during conversation, if appropriate, whether the person would like to get your email newsletter.
  • Don’t forget the non-verbal parts of your image count, too — make eye contact  and use a firm handshake.
  • Don’t push your product or service. That can come across as pushy and unattractive. Wait until you’re asked about it.
  • Don’t treat the event like a social occasion. That means: professional attire, professional business cards, and no inappropriate behavior.
Forming business connections and contacts through networking events can create valuable relationships and resources.  It behooves one to master the art of winning friends and influencing people.  Make 2013 your year for personal growth and improvement.  


Happy 2013!




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