The Don'ts

Here is a compilation of ideas and suggestions on how to avoid beinga networking "sleaze," as well as how to identify one. You may have more to add.

  • Don't equate the process of networking to a science -- it is an art.
  • Don't misconstrue networking to be a sales plan.
  • Don't be blinded by goals, only guided by them.
  • Don't be so quick to make judgments about others.
  • Don't use a name to gain access without permission of that person. (from Becky Gordon)
  • Don't foist your business cards on people or deal them out to othersbefore a conversation occurs.
  • Don't offer unsolicited opinions for the benefit of those who never asked.
  • Don't talk about the monetary terms of your last deal; most of us know to divide that figure in half.
  • Don't ask for more than people can give.
  • Don't take credit for ideas, concepts, or words of others (it's calledplagiarism, violation of copyright, or stealing).
  • Don't blame others for your missed deadlines or unfulfilled promises.
  • Don't be invasive or ask too many questions.
  • Don't hesitate to contribute to conversations.
  • Don't forget to think before speaking. Pregnant pauses are sweet silences.
  • Don't ignore signals -- body language, gestures, words, tone.
  • Don't use disparaging humor.
  • Don't overstay your welcome.
  • Don't be touchy-feely -- keep your lips, hands, and arms to yourself. "Friendly" pinches, squeezes, hugs, and kisses may not be considered so by the recipient.
  • Don't use suggestive language.
  • Don't be an opportunistic glad-hander. Be "in the moment" with people.
  • Don't misrepresent a sales event as a social party. (from Miss Manners)
  • Don't pursue, pester, or push people.
  • Don't bad-mouth people. One never knows what can come back to haunt you. A localcity supervisor gave his annual holiday party. Upon being introduced to his assistant, shementioned her former employment. I smiled and shared the name of my buddy who usedto work with her. Her disparaging remark about my friend revealed her lack of politicalsavvy and sense.
  • Don't send unsolicited résumés to people who don't know you, and don't expect toreceive them. Effective communicators let people know ahead of time.
  • Don't forget to do your homework.
  • Don't deflect compliments; they are gifts. Acknowledge the giver by saying "Thank you."
  • Don't get discouraged; the process works if you understand it.
  • Don't forget to say "I'm sorry" when you have erred, as well as "I don't know, "please"and "thank you."
  • Don't lead people on; tell the truth.
  • Don't compromise ethics for a quick buck. (from Chris Bigelow)
  • Don't be afraid to be afraid. (from Doug Sharpe)
  • Don't be afraid to try something new; you can always return to the old way. (from ChrisBigelow)
  • Don't drop a colleague, client, or customer because his/her timing is different from yours.This month's turndown could be next year's megacontract.
  • Don't discriminate against people; be discriminating among them.
  • Don't complicate the concept of expanding and overlapping circles with petty powerplays.
  • Don't forget that cross-gender networking is affected by the differences in conversationalstyles of men and women.

Susan RoAne, a nationally recognized speaker on topics including networking and conversation strategies, is the best-selling author of How to Work a Room: The Secrets of Savvy Networking and What Do I Say Next? Susan RoAne and the RoAne Group may be contacted at 415-239-2224 or via