How Do I Handle Awkward Networking Moments?

Awkward Networking MomentsI just got asked this question at a firm I was speaking at by a financial advisor. It would have been awkward if I didn’t have a good answer.

I shared my most awkward business networking moment as part of my response.

Years ago, I shared the spotlight on stage at an event with a woman named Jackie. I was very intimidated by Jackie because she’s a former boss, very serious, and the number two executive of a hotel chain.

Jackie wore very large glasses which made her eyes appear huge! Well, we spoke in the morning and I didn’t think our messages worked well together, so I wanted to let her know my thoughts over lunch but was hesitant because of feeling intimated.

Instead, I let her talk while I ate. And as she did, I bit down on a steamed string bean and a stream of hot water shot right onto her eyeglass lens and dripped down into her soda. Bloop!

And for the first few moments, I pretended that it didn’t happen!

Now, her big eyes were cross-eyed staring at the water that was now on her lens. I desperately held back the laughter and said, you saw that, huh? She said, “Yeah.” I said, “OK, now what?” We both busted out laughing. I never discussed my concerns from the morning. When we got back on stage in the afternoon, we were awesome. And the eyeglasses never made it back to her face.

In a networking environment (or perhaps at any event or party where there are others mingling around), sticky situations can arise. Here are some of the most common awkward moments and some suggestions on how to handle.

How do I introduce myself?

Start with your name and a “nice to meet you!” Ask questions about them!

How do I start a meaningful conversation?

Start by using opening questions that you genuinely want to ask that also serve as conversation starters.

How do I introduce others in the conversation without being rude?

After introducing people you meet, give them the chance to talk about themselves.

How do I introduce others and gracefully walk away?

After introducing others excuse yourself and offer to speak to them later.

What should I do if I forget someone’s name?

Just ask! “I’m sorry; I forgot your name.” Be apologetic and self-effacing.

How do I ask for a business card?

Offer to exchange business cards and explain why it would benefit both of you.

How do I write on someone’s business card without offending?

Always ask permission to write on someone’s business card.

How do I offer my business card?

Offer to exchange cards and explain why. Make the exchange a mutual gesture.

How do I know when to end a conversation?

Stick to your time limit. Don’t monopolize the other person’s time.

How do I excuse myself politely without offending?

Offer another introduction or offer to allow both of you to meet others.

What can I do if I’ve done something embarrassing or stupid?

An apology will handle most mistakes – unless it’s disrespectful or mean-spirited.

What if you just don’t click?

You won’t click with everyone. Just keep the conversation short and sweet.

 

What are your most awkward networking moments?



Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg has helped financial advisors, brokers, agents, reps, wholesalers and other sales producers generate hundreds of thousands of dollars to their bottom line. His firm Knock Out Networking, LLC is renowned as a speaking and training resource in the financial services industry. Described by clients as a “spark plug”, Michael is a master at invigorating and engaging audiences. His “knock-out” style is “in your face” and high energy. His content is “real world” and can be applied immediately. Michael speaks at conferences and associations, runs sales meetings, and delivers “results driven” programs on networking, referral marketing, and sales presentations. Clients include John Hancock Investments, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Guardian Life, Jackson National, Penn Mutual, AXA Advisors, Prudential, MetLife, New York Life, Thrivent Financial, Colonial Life, and Chubb & Son. Michael writes regular columns for the Huffington Post, Life Health Pro, Producers Web, Producers E-Source, Horsesmouth and has been quoted in the Harvard Business Review and Wall Street Journal. Michael has spoken at numerous conferences in the financial services industry including the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and has spoken for TEDx at Yale University. Educational background includes a Masters Degree in Training and Organization Development from Lesley University and a Bachelors Degree from CUNY Brooklyn in Hospitality Management. Michael is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), an earned designation awarded by the National Speakers Association and the International Federation for Professional Speakers to recognize demonstrated commitment to the speaking profession through proven speaking experience. Fewer than 10 percent of the thousands of speaking professionals worldwide hold this designation. He is currently an award winning adjunct professor at Rutgers University and frequently volunteers as a speaker at organizations focused on career search.

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