Did you know that there are 3 big networking mistakes that professional women still make? As you can imagine I go to a lot of events and many of these events are for the purpose of networking to meet new people and grow my circle of influence. I am surprised by how often I see people consistently make the same mistakes over and over again. These are experienced and intelligent people in good jobs, but I still see it.
Recently I went to a high-level women’s leadership lunch organized by a local chamber of commerce. Here are just some of the mistakes I saw while I was there:
People dress like they just rolled out of bed. I believe that style is an important part of your personal brand and significantly improves your body language and executive presence. At this particular event I wore one of my favourite dresses by Canadian Designer Joseph Ribkoff and my comfortable sculpted heels by Ecco. The thing is that many woman believe that they should only be judged by their mind (so for example by what they say or how they behave) and not at all by their appearance. The bottom line is that ALL men and woman are judged first by non-verbal cues and some of those come from what you wear, your body language and how you carry yourself. Remember that for a business event you want to look smart and fashionable, but still professional and somewhat modest. Make the effort, it is worth it.
Not bringing any business cards with you. This one drives me crazy! More often than not women I meet at networking events don’t have any business cards because they “just changed handbags”. The solution to this is simple, put business cards in all your handbags as soon as you finish reading this article. Or buy one amazing handbag in a neutral tone that you wear to all your events, that is what I do. Right now I am loving the stylish vegan handbags by Canadian line Matt and Nat.
Not having an effective elevator speech. You have about one or two minutes when someone first says to you “So tell me what do you do” to impress them and make a positive first impression. You should compel them to want to talk to you further and add you to their online network. The number of times people cannot tell me what they do or they say in a low and disappointed tone “Oh I’m just an accountant” (someone actually said that to me). You are never “just” anything! Show pride in what you do and talk about it with passion.
Correct these mistakes and you will be light years ahead of everyone else. I know it may all sound like common sense to you, but that is where people often falter, by ignoring the fundamentals.
One final tip, remember to smile! I love this quote from Guy Kawasaki “ If you want to make a good first impression, smile at people. What does it cost to smile? Nothing. What does it cost not to smile? Everything, if not smiling prevents you from enchanting people.” I look forward to meeting you at a networking event in the future, where I am sure you will dazzle me.