How many of you have encountered someone at a networking event who came on too strong and wouldn't let you escape the conversation until you dashed to the restroom? Overly aggressive behavior is just one of many networking no-no's that you can commit.
I came across some advice adapted from the Amacom book "Make Your Contacts Count: Networking Know-How for Cash, Clients and Career Success" that's worth sharing. Authors Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon say you can get the most from your professional relationships by knowing the top 15 turn-offs to avoid:
1. Don't tell all the details. The person who insists on telling everything will soon lose her audience. Don't include everything: sketch in the broad outlines.
2. Don't do monologues. Encourage and invite others to participate.
3. Don't interrogate people. Persistence is usually counted as a virtue, but you have to know when to stop probing.
4. Don't insist on one-upmanship. The person who always has a better story than yours or a better deal to crow about uses conversation to make himself look wonderful - sometimes at the expense of others.
5. Don't seek free advice. People who hit up doctors, lawyers or consultants abuse their conversational partners by asking questions they should be asking in a more formal situation.
6. Don't interrupt. Don't insist on having the first, the middle and the last word; let others participate in the conversation.
7. Don't hide. If you bring up a topic, be sure it's one you feel comfortable discussing fully.
8. Don't be dogmatic. People don't want to be harangued by someone who is trying to change their mind or force opinions down their throat.
9. Don't give unsolicited advice. If you feel that your experience may be helpful to someone else, ask permission. Say, "Would you like to hear about what I did in that kind of situation?"
10. Don't be a bigot. If someone makes a bigoted remark, practice your assertive behavior yet be tactful.
11. Don't whine. Whiners never have anything good to say.
12. Don't do hard sells. A networking event isn't the place for it. Back off and instead focus on cultivating the relationship.
13. Don't assume that you will get paid. Most networking implies reciprocity.
14. Don't confuse contacts with friends. It's possible to have many warm business contacts without turning them into friendships.
15. Don't expect to get without giving. The worst thing you can do is to take repeatedly from a person without reciprocating by sending information, referrals or opportunities her way.