You take the time out of your busy day, battle traffic to get there and then find that the networking event that you attended is a complete failure – leaving you with zero new connections. All right, perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration, but even if this didn’t exactly happen to you, how do you know that you’re not making a questionable, if not lousy, first impression?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to see what sort of impressions you might be making and possible solutions to rectify them.
Question: Do you arrive at a networking event disheveled or dressed in an unprofessional manner?
Impression: You don’t take the event, yourself or your business seriously and you seem unreliable.
Solution: Most people attend a networking event to look for job prospects, expand their clientele, find others to do business with or meet with like minded individuals. If you don’t even take the time to dress appropriately, how can others trust that you can be taken seriously or that you can be depended upon.
Question: Do you stand off to the side or in a corner, unsmiling and wait for people to approach you?
Impression: You are unfriendly and unapproachable.
Solution: It is quite common to fear introducing yourself to someone new for fear of being ignored or snubbed. By not doing so however you run the risk of seeming aloof or standoffish. Start by making baby steps. Scan the room for another person who is standing on their own, approach them and introduce yourself. They will probably be relieved to have someone to talk to.
Question: Do you introduce yourself to someone, hand them your business card and walk away?
Impression: You are only there to promote yourself and are uninterested in others.
Solution: Some people believe that the success of a networking event stems on the amount of business cards they have either handed out or collected. Not so. Networking events are all about connecting with others and forming relationships. How will anyone know anything about you or your business if you don’t get the chance to share it with them?
Question: Do you talk only about yourself or scan the room while others are speaking?
Impression: You are self centered and inconsiderate.
Solution: Networking is also about listening to others and focusing on what they are saying. If you don’t listen to others, how will you ever know what they have to offer, what you could possible offer them or if there could be a mutually beneficial relationship in your future. Perhaps you could try attending an event with the sole intention of seeing how you could help others.
Question: When someone asks about your business or what you do, do you hesitate, stammer and seem unprepared?
Impression: You are unsure of yourself and/or your business.
Solution: If you are uncertain about who you are and what you do, how could others feel confident doing business with you, hiring you for the job or referring you to someone else? Know specifically what you do, own it and be proud of it. You have to be sure of yourself before others can be sure of you.
Networking can be a great way to meet new people and expand your opportunities. Make sure to put every effort in making a positive first impression and you’ll find that every networking event that you attend will be a successful one.
Barbara Aleks Hecht
Barbara Aleks Hecht is a Certified Image Consultant and Personal Stylist. She provides her clients with the tools they need to help them look great, feel great and present themselves in the best possible light – in any situation. Barbara assists her clients in maximizing their potential and helps propel them to the next level.