The dos and don’ts of Networking

Common mistakes and how to avoid them to become a pro at networking.

Networking is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it. When we did a recent poll around the office, I was surprised that even the most confident, bubbly members of the team said they were filled with dread when it came to networking! But why? When meeting and speaking to people is such a luxury, why do we find it so challenging?

Let’s break it down.

Networking is hard, but remember, you get out what you put in! But why do it? Whether we like it or not, it is important, yet most of us avoid it if we can. So why bother?

Networking is all about generating long-term, quality connections with like-minded people. Think of it like gathering an address book of untapped knowledge you can draw from in future. You’re choosing connections to have in your corner through the highs and possible lows of your career, these contacts are there to give you support and advice, and in return, all they ask for is the same level of support – pretty simple when you break it down. You’re selecting your own professional cheerleading team that will help you grow, gain insight, and help you through career challenges.

10 Common dos and don’ts:

Don’t – Be fake. Do – Be yourself and be confident in your own shoes. You are there because you have a common interest, use that to your advantage. Don’t oversell yourself but be honest and true to who you are.


Don’t – Talk over others – you’ll come across as rude and asserting power. Do – Actively listen. If you have asked a question, let them answer. Also, pick up on things they’ve said and ask them to expand. It will encourage the conversation to flow if it’s two-way.


Don’t – Recite your CV. It’s not a job interview. Do- Introduce yourself and let them tell you who they are! By getting the admin out the way you’ll open the floor for conversation rather than a recital.


Don’t – Use defensive body language. Do – Whether you’re in person or virtual, remember that your body language is still a huge part of your conversation (93% to be exact). Consciously make eye contact (without doing a creepy stare) even if it’s through the screen you can tell if people are glazing over. Sit with your arms unfolded, after all, you don’t want to be putting a barrier between you both and remember to smile!


Don’t – Brag or shamelessly sell your product. Do – Find out who you’re talking to by talking to them! No one likes a show-off, and no one wants to be cornered in a sales pitch. Remember, your aim is to get people on your side. If you’ve gleaned from the conversation that the product, you’re selling is relevant then go into detail, otherwise gloss over it, and move on with the conversation.


Don’t – Stand and stare at them in silence expecting them to do all the leg work. Do – Think of some interesting reflections from the event or meeting you’ve just had and ask their opinion. If it’s pre-meet networking, have some generic questions prepped for the event you’re attending so you have something to contribute and start from if you’re nervous.


Don’t – Shoulder block colleagues. Just because you’ve found someone to latch onto doesn’t mean you should monopolise them. Do – Be welcoming and friendly and engage with loiters around you. They may be new to networking or have an interesting point to share. You should remember to treat everyone with respect.


Don’t – Make a beeline for the ‘top dogs’. Do – Look at the delegate lists circulated in advance to help you proactively see who you’d like to connect with, you can even reach out via LinkedIn first. Try not to disregard people. You never know what career path potential connections are on, and how they may help you in the future…


Don’t – Get drunk. Do – Set yourself a limit. Having a drink in hand can be a benefit, it gives your hands something to do and means you can’t fold your arms or shove your hands in your pockets. Even if you can hold your liquor, remember that you are there for your business, attending on behalf of your organisation and you’re there to be an ambassador for yourself.


Don’t – Forget about your contacts as soon as you leave! Do – Have a business card handy so your connections can follow up. Invite them to meet for a coffee, or a virtual coffee and get something in your diary. Schedule follow-up emails so you can check in regularly.

Networking can be daunting but remember that everyone is in the same boat. By nurturing relationships, you will quickly become a networking expert!

Here at Horizon Leeds, our meeting rooms and spaces have been designed with our client’s needs in mind, which is why we’ve created the perfect rooms and spaces for events, meetings, and conferences.

Our Meet@ space is the perfect space for networking, with a capacity for 200 standing, many of our clients hire Meet@ exclusively after their conference for this purpose.