7 Things You Should NEVER Do at a Networking Event

Even if you've never been to an etiquette school, you know there is a list of social faux pas to pay attention to when networking with other professionals: never chew gum with your mouth open, using the right fork, etc.

While you should definitely take note of that list (and follow it!), we've put together another valuable list---a list of "never do's" that can sabotage your results at the next networking event you attend. After all, networking is all about meeting, mingling, having meaningful conversations, and stepping away with a long list of professionals you can't wait to follow up with. (For more tips, check out our list of tips that can help you get the most out of your speed networking experience at Small Business Expo.) 

Obsess Over Your Phone

As a professional, it can be hard to disconnect---especially when there is so much going on back at the office. It's hard to step away from the customer emails, office crises, and team communications. However, if you want to get the most out of your networking experience, it's important to be present in the moment.

Disconnecting during a networking experience is the only way to be "all in" when connecting with other professionals. So put the phone away for a short time; the individuals you meet with appreciate it, and you're sure to come away with more connections.

Drinking Too Much

Getting away from the office should be a positive experience. This is your chance to meet new people, learn and absorb, and enjoy the atmosphere. Just make sure you don't enjoy the bar just a little too much; sometimes, having "one too many" can sabotage your networking experience---and your results. If you're inebriated, some of your fellow networkers may not see you in the best light, doubt your competence, or, worst case scenario, remember you as that "annoying person they couldn't wait to get away from."


Over Selling

Selling yourself and your business is a part of networking---but it shouldn't be all of it. When preparing for a networking event, put together your elevator pitch: who you are, what you do, etc. However, you should also prepare to listen and learn from others too; two-way communication and open discussions are essential for networking success. Unfortunately, you're not going to get either if you are too intent to sell, sell, sell. 

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Staying Away

Networking is all about putting yourself "out there," which can be an uncomfortable and awkward experience for some professionals (far more than you would think). While it may feel unnatural, learning to jump in and interact with other professionals is an important part of your personal and business success.

If you are really anxious about networking, take small steps to practice and learn how to engage with others before you head to your next big networking event. Practice with friends and family, go to local events for more social experience, and ask your fellow team members to help you hone your networking skills.

Passing Out Your Cards Before...

Exchanging business cards is an integral part of networking. A professional's business card makes follow-up easy, and it can even be a good place to put a few notes on so you can personalize future communications. However, a business card exchange should be a natural end to the interaction; not something that happens before you've had a conversation. You should be interacting, not working the room.

Giving Out Your Resume

Employment opportunities are a natural part of networking. Sometimes you can find out about opportunities at events you didn't even know existed! Just remember, that while networking is your chance to make a favorable impression, it is not a job interview. Instead, focus on being memorable and building trust. Leave your resumes at home; you'll need those later when you head in for a chat about the job.


To be clear, it's okay to be proud of who you are and your successes. However, it's not okay for it to be the only topic of conversation. Bragging about you is sure to leave a bad taste in your fellow professionals' mouths, and make them want to stay away---and not engage---with you. When you start going on and on about you, you'll find that others around you are going to find reasons to head elsewhere.


Just like you wouldn't head onto the sports court without practicing, don't head to your next networking event without preparing yourself. Practice your elevator pitch and networking skills before you head to your next event, and make sure you have everything you need to make it a success.