Networking events are great opportunities to mingle with other creatives and learn about the latest trends. These functions also are the perfect time to meet and impress prospective employers and business contacts. But a certain code of conduct guides networking activities, and if you’re blind to the rules, you may have trouble making the positive impression you’d like. Here are three common gaffes and how you can avoid them:
Business Card ‘Bling.’ While your business card is a resourceful venue to display your talent, don’t go overboard. Presenting your contact information with an artistic touch can be an effective way to make a powerful first impact, but excessive detail can be distracting. However you design your card, make sure your current contact information is conspicuous, and more important, correct. If a prospective client wants to see more of your work, he’ll have all the information he needs at his fingertips.
Swollen-Head Syndrome. No matter how proud you are about the success of a print ad or the response you received from a recent product launch, don’t monopolize conversations with talk of your accomplishments. While you want to provide some information about yourself when networking, you also want to learn about those you meet. Listening is one of the best ways to gain valuable information that can help you make meaningful connections with people.
Busy Bee Boogie. Trying to connect with every person at a networking event is not only overly ambitious, but also ineffective. While you want to reach out to new people, your time will be wasted if you make weak connections. Make sure you form quality relationships by selecting a handful of people to speak with and following up with them after the event. Consider sending a thank-you note, inviting them to other events or offering your help on future projects to show your appreciation and strengthen ties.
Networking can feel serendipitous—sometimes you’ll hit it off with people, and other times not—but you can increase your odds for fruitful encounters by avoiding common faux pas. If you master the basics of networking, you’re already on the way to making your own luck!
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and Web professionals on a project basis with a variety of firms.