I went to a networking event back in August and had a stranger interrupt my conversation with ‘so, what do you do then?’

One thought came into my head: I am not defined by the work I do.

His game strategy for the networking event was clear. He didn’t care about building rapport or establishing common ground. He wanted to work out whether I was a suitable ‘target’ for his pitch and, when he decided I was not, he quickly moved on.

I was shocked and it got me thinking about a few misconceptions when it comes to networking events.

Myth 1: It’s All About Selling

It may sound counter-intuitive, but a networking event is honestly not about pitching to every person there. Many of us are put off by someone who’s ‘salesy’, and so coming out with the old ‘what do you do’ is a clear indicator of being weighed up in terms of how useful the connection could be and whether it’s worth the investment of time.

People do business with those who tick all the know, like and trust boxes. By taking the time to focus on establishing common ground and building rapport, we become memorable for all the right reasons. Even if the new contact doesn’t need our products or services right now, they’re more likely to make contact again when the time is right and even make recommendations to others, simply because they know us on a personal level.

Myth 2: Everyone’s Interested in That Standard Elevator Pitch

Once a conversation has been established, of course it’s natural to talk about work. But we’re always far more interested in why people do what they do, rather than the what.

So prep that elevator pitch in advance and take time to consider adding a personal why into the mix to make you and your business memorable.

Myth 3: The Person Who Gives out the Most Business Cards Wins

I’m afraid there isn’t a prize to whoever gives out the most business cards in a night, so all is not lost if you forget them.

Connecting on social media or sending a quick email with your contact details can be done there and then, plus it still provides that opportunity to continue the conversation at a later date.

Myth 4: New contacts will gravitate towards you

Yes, the bar area might be an obvious place to stand, but let’s put those introverted thoughts away and move around the room to mingle with new connections.

If people are in groups, check out their body language to see if it would be appropriate for you to gently join their conversation.

If not, find someone else who’s standing by themselves and start talking to them – they’ll probably be relieved to have someone to chat with!

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Networking events can be heaps of fun and remain such a great opportunity to meet new people. I’d love to hear your top tips in the comments box below.