How not to network

Because it's not very British, is it?


The British are notoriously suspicious of the concept of networking. While other nationalities see it as a perfectly normal part of business life, we have a tendency to stand in a corner, consumed with self-consciousness and muttering darkly about 'sucking up' and 'showing off'.

No quantity of general advice or handy tips is likely to make much difference here - so, instead, we'll celebrate that socially-awkward British character, and look at how to get networking wrong.

It's no longer acceptable, or even legal, to stand in a corner chain-smoking and looking moody, in the way that was so effective at college discos all those years ago. You can, though, use your phone in much the same way. Lean against a wall and start playing Angry Birds 2 or going through your spam folder. Nod thoughtfully now and again, allow yourself the occasional wry smile, and avoid eye contact like the plague. Everybody will surely think you're much too busy and important to interrupt.

If this person stops talking to you, you'll have to find someone else - and that will never do. Cling to them like a leech. You never know, they may get so frustrated that they decide to ignore you and start talking to others - in which case you can hijack the conversation for your own ends. If they go to the loo, follow, and talk through the cubicle door.

Collect business cards for the sake of it
One tried and tested way to get by at networking events is to treat them like a game of Happy Families, and just concentrate on collecting as many business cards as you can physically carry. It's not great for the environment, and the odds are that if you rush around like that, nobody will remember you at all. But it does give you something to look at when you get home, and you could always frame them. Or shred them for hamster bedding.

Give people your life story
With every new introduction, give people your full list of achievements - just learn your CV off by heart. Make sure you point out, often, that you're a self-starter and passionate about your work. If your career has had rough patches, make sure they know every detail, and just how hard-done-by you were. Making sure you have plenty to drink - hey, the booze is free! - will make your monologues much more fluent and you never know, you could find a new best friend.

Ask for the moon
This person you're chatting met you a whole five minutes ago: surely more than enough time to have realised just how wonderful you are. They know loads of influential people who could give you a job, and of course an introduction isn't too much to ask.

Dismiss people as unimportant
Never forget that networking is entirely about what people can do for you. If they're of no immediate use right now, brush them off as fast as you can - preferably with a dismissive comment so they never come bothering you again. Of course, this may be a problem if you bump into one another again under different circumstances, but you can worry about that when the time comes.

A room full of people, with nary a spouse in sight - and you're by far the most attractive person in the place. Make the most of your opportunity. The young, nervous, shy ones will obviously be the most grateful for your attentions.

Stalk people on Twitter
Twitter allows you to network from the comfort of your own home, which means that you can really go for it. Retweet and/or favourite everything your targets post. Constantly send them requests to follow you back so that you can direct message them, and then bombard them with requests for help. If they ever do reply to you, remember that means you're best friends.

Forget all about it the next day
Well, thank goodness that's over. You did what you were supposed to, went to the event, collected all those business cards. Job done. You really can't be bothered to follow up with an email or anything; in fact, it's best to just put the whole thing out of your mind. Just hope you never bump into these people again and reveal the fact that you've forgotten them completely.

Tips on How to Network From a Networking Expert

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