5 Networking Do’s and Don’ts

July 2nd, 2014

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Going to networking events for the first time, or even regularly, can be a daunting prospect. Not everyone has the confidence to go up to a random stranger and start a conversation. I’ve compiled a few simple do’s and don’ts to hopefully help you make the most of your networking experience.

Some of the advice may be contrary to what you’ve learnt about in the past, but the following generally applies to informal networking events with creatives.

1. Do attend regularly

Turning up once, handing out some business cards and riding off into the sunset isn’t going to win you any networking points.

Make yourself a regular face there, it will help build your confidence as you get to know people and they get to know you. You never know, you might make some new friends!

2. Don’t have any expectations

Most people will spot someone with an agenda a mile off. Even if you are looking for work, don’t go in all guns blazing trying to find someone to give you a project.

It might take a lot longer than just a couple of networking attendances but the likeliness is, if you have the right skill for the job, someone will pass something your way in the future.

I attended a networking event three years ago in Guildford, and two years later I got some work from someone I wasn’t even sure remembered me. So just relax, get to know people and let them get to know you, the work will come naturally.

3. Do take business cards, but…

Don’t just hand them out willy nilly!

There is not a lot to be gained from just aimlessly handing out business cards. You need to make sure they are handed out at the right time, to the right person.

I personally like to wait until someone has asked for a card rather than shoving them into someones hand. It also feeds back into my previous point about having an agenda, it can be off putting if you come across too keen or aggressive with your networking tactics.

4. Don’t oversell yourself

Make sure you’re honest about your skills. Seasoned networkers and pro’s in the industry will know if you’re out of your depth.

Talk about what you do know and what you’re passionate about, and if you’re unsure about something then ask! There’s no shame in admitting you’re not sure what they’re talking about; it’s a conversation starter, gives the other person a chance to talk about their skill, and you might learn something!

5. Do connect through social media

I’ve often found the best connections made have been through following people on Twitter after or even whilst meeting them at networking events. It opens up a channel for you to have informal conversations outside of the networking group and find out a bit more about the person you’ve been talking to. Just ask them if they’re on Twitter, find their handle and off you go!

What are your do’s and don’ts?

Let me know below, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the above or if you have something to add.

Posted in Freelancing Advice

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Jo is the organise of Portsmouth Freelancers Meet, a freelance front-end developer & web designer, and Director of creative agency Starboard Media.

http://www.joannaeyre.co.uk

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