6 Common Traps To Avoid At Networking Events

6 Common Traps To Avoid At Networking Events

Networking events are a bit like dating; you need to present yourself in a manner that doesn’t wield unfair pressure or make people uncomfortable. So, what are the common traps to avoid at networking events? We are glad you asked.

Common Mistakes In Networking And The Best Recommendations

1. Being too self-centered

Networking isn’t a one-way street where you hog conversations. Avoid domineering the conversation with your achievements, needs, or agenda. Doing so may make you appear rude, arrogant, or desperate and turn off people. 

Instead, listen more, ask questions, empathize, and show interest in other people’s goals, perspectives, interests, and challenges. Psychologist Carl Rogers advises that listening is central to every healthy relationship.  A listening mindset builds trust, rapport, and credibility with other attendees. 

2. Falling prey to the “transaction fallacy”

Many professionals approach networking as a transaction where they are “getting something” out of the interaction immediately. These professionals love handing business cards like free candy. 

If you’re handing out cards to anyone and everyone without being requested, people might start searching for your white panel van. Everyone is online nowadays, so a physical card is somewhat humiliating.  In addition, this kind of behavior may make you come out as insincere. 

Remember, in professional networking quality trumps quantity. Aim to leave the event with a few solid connections rather than hitting your quota of cards. 

3. Disparaging others

Validating others is the key to helping them believe in their abilities, so don’t give unsolicited negative feedback to people you newly met at a networking event. If someone says they have the chops to manage something, who are you to question that? It’s downright unwelcome and arrogant. 

Rather than saying, “That idea won’t work and here’s why….” engage them in meaningful discussions to better understand. If you are still unconvinced, give them a polite smile and a well-wishing gesture. That’s how to be smooth in professional networking!

4. Gluing yourself to your phone

Networking events can be notoriously awkward. Hosts attempt ice-breakers because nobody knows anyone, and you spend most of your time trying not to look like an oddball standing in the corner alone. Hiding behind the screen might seem like an easy escape, but it’s counterproductive. This is one of the notorious mistakes in networking.

Standing there quickly scrolling through apps, trying to look like you’re smart, important, or busy, only makes you seem unapproachable. You just have to throw yourself in the deep end and start talking to people., no matter how hard it feels. 

5. Clinging to known associates

Bringing a friend or colleague to a networking event can help you break the ice with new people, assure you when your confidence wavers, and introduce you to their connections. 

However, don’t make the mistake of clinging together too closely to your buddy instead of striking up new conversations with other attendees. Doing so will defeat the purpose of networking. You can mingle as individuals only at the beginning, then join back when conversations with others naturally end. 

6. Underestimating some people

The final trap to avoid at networking events is making a hit list of contacts and avoiding everyone else. According to Ben Schwencke, a business psychologist at Test Partnership, the most important networking deals or opportunities occur spontaneously and organically. 

Therefore, don't ignore someone because they don’t look “high-profile.” Today’s intern is tomorrow’s C.E.O. and may be integral in your career journey. Remember, it’s a small world; what goes around comes around.


We all make mistakes when networking, don’t we? However, most professionals will forgive you for an occasional and unintended faux pas. Luckily, being aware of these six common traps to avoid at networking events can help you create more positive interactions and create value.

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