First impressions are incredibly important. Don’t botch yours by making silly mistakes that undermine your chances of being taken seriously.
Wondering whether you might be making any of these totally avoidable errors? Double check your meeting-new-people routine and make sure you aren’t falling victim to any of these faux pas.
1. Me me me me me…
Talking too much about yourself can be very off-putting. You’ve been in that situation—suffering a seemingly endless monologue from some contact whose hand you’ve only just shaken. It’s an easy trap to fall into, particularly when you’re meant to be networking and selling yourself.
Remember to take a step back every now and then and ask some questions about the person you are speaking with. And keep in mind that dominance is not the same as confidence. You can let the conversation be more equal and still project the confidence and control you’ve been working so hard to cultivate.
2. Not Talking About Yourself
Almost as bad as droning on and on about yourself is not talking about yourself enough. Don’t make the other person do all of the conversational heavy-lifting. Don’t give one word answers to thoughtful questions. Don’t be evasive, etc.
3. Complaining All the Time
If you’re just meeting someone, the last thing you want is to give the impression that you’re a moaner. Try to keep it positive, at least for the first half an hour of your acquaintance. You can complain to your family and friends all you like. Keep professional settings positive.
4. Buying the First Round
You may think that you’re ingratiating yourself to a group you’ve just met by offering to bring drinks for everyone back from the bar. But it can actually be more beneficial to a new connection for them to feel like they are doing you a favor. Let someone else grab your drink, then thank them warmly. No need to be the waitress or the star. Just focus on the impression you most want to make.
5. Not Being Up-Front
Sometimes you meet someone you’ve been following online. It’s awkward and problematic to pretend you don’t know things that you do. Be open about how you’ve made their Internet acquaintance—this will give you something extra to chat about more naturally. And the same goes for not pretending you know more about someone you’ve been introduced to than you do. In these, as in so many cases, honesty is best.
You may want to impress someone, but being too complimentary can actually freak people out. And will definitely make you look like you’re just sucking up. Try to keep it as genuine as possible.
7. Getting Too Personal
Think of a networking event or opportunity as a first date. Keep things on a somewhat even and considered keel. There will be time for oversharing if you develop a real friendship or connection. Try not to overwhelm your new connection right off the bat.