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Historically, I have written pieces that focus on networking best practices.

A common theme in my writing is the importance of graciousness, politeness, generosity and genuine curiosity. These characteristics are critical to successful networking, yet so many professionals seem to consistently miss the mark.

Navigating the networking nincompoops

The truth is, if you are attending an event for the sole purpose of prospecting and landing 3 new clients during a 2-hour time frame, the boat is truly being missed.

A networking event is a fertile forum where relationships are born as well as cultivated. These relationships, when fostered with the right spirit, can and will lead to innumerable successes.

In order to take full advantage of the opportunities a good networking event can afford, it is essential to understand how to skillfully navigate the room. This navigation hinges on the ability to accurately identify the “cast of characters” or “usual suspects” that we often encounter, and the artful avoidance of some of these folks.

if you are attending an event for the sole purpose of prospecting and landing 3 new clients during a 2-hour time frame, the boat is truly being missed

Here is my Top 10 list of Networking Nincompoops:

1. The “Chest Beater”

This person tells you how great they are and doesn’t notice that you have either started to doze off or are choking on finger food during the conversation. Sometimes this category is combined with number 10 (see below).

2. The “Eye Darter”

This is the guy/gal who always thinks they will find someone better to talk to.

It is easy to feel insecure when speaking with this person, as their eye aerobics hint that you are just not that interesting. Caution: it is not your conversation that prompted the eye scan but the “Darter’s” insecurity that fuels this.

3. The “Convenient Amnesiac”

These folks always forget people they have met several times before.

There could be several reasons for this, not the least of which is laziness. It still doesn’t make their forgetfulness any less frustrating or even insulting.

4. The “Business Card Jockey”

This character always hands out and collects too many cards as if they have entered a popularity contest.

Quantity is always better than quality in this case. Although one never knows, perhaps they are constructing a world record house built out of business cards.

5. The “Card Scrooge”

On the flip side, the Card Scrooge never carries enough cards, on purpose.

This is usually an attempt to control the networking game…this way, only the Scrooge decides who they want to follow up with and they are not pursued themselves.

6. The “Bad Choices poster child”

This is the person who complains about their job, whines about their boss, gossips about other event attendees and always dresses inappropriately.

7. The “Business Bimbo”

The name says it all…this is a woman who wears nightclub attire to a business function.

The micro-skirt and low-cut blouse are usually accompanied by theatrical makeup and a lot of flirtatious touching during a conversation. This is someone who has the power to single-handedly erase 40 years of progress of the professional women’s movement.

8. The “Open Bar Champion”

This clown prides themselves on getting their “money’s worth” for their ticket price.

They don’t understand that just because booze and schmooze rhyme they don’t necessarily belong together.

9. The “Starving Salesman”

This person arrives at an event so hungry that their primary goal is to fill up on the free food quickly and with gusto.

A meaningful conversation is a challenge because their mouth is so stuffed with food that their elevator pitch is delivered with a spray of saliva and crumbs.

10. The “Energy Vampire”

This is someone who feels that every event is a cotillion being held in their honor.

They enter and work the room like the birthday girl at their Sweet Sixteen party. Every conversation becomes part of their one night only turbo-charged PR campaign.

There is no arguing that strategic and smart networking can unlock great opportunities. The only way to network smart and gain valuable traction is to sharpen your eye and avoid the hazards that can easily foil the best intentions.

What do you think? Have you ever encountered these characters at the networking events before? Let me know in the comments’ section below.

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