Lately, I seem to be improving myself most by learning what NOT to do from other people. If I find myself annoyed, irritated, feeling hurt, or bothered by something that someone else is doing, the first thing I do is check to make sure I don't do that, whatever that is.
This applies to networking. In fact, I think it is an easier way to become comfortable networking - by eliminating bad habits - rather than feeling like you have to learn a whole new set of skills. I think that most people already have the skills to be a great networker. We just let our bad habits get in the way of developing our web of personal relationships.
Here's an example of what not to do. The first time you meet someone at a networking event is NOT the time to convert them to your political viewpoint. You might think that you're having an important in-depth conversation on the issues. They might think that you're argumentative and in their face. In fact, you'll probably never change a person's political orientation so why would you waste valuable time on something that could create a negative impression?
People of opposite political persuasions can and actually do conduct business with each other, but why would you point out your differences instead of building on your commonalities? One of the first rules in networking is to build rapport through finding common ground. Arguing about someone's political beliefs are one of the fastest ways to point out to them how different you are.
Do you do this? You might want to leave the political discussions outside and focus on building the relationship rather than trying to create converts.
Want more What NOT to Do in Networking? It's the height of the socializing season, so there will be more where this came from.