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6 types of people to avoid at networking events

A group of like-minded people amicably discussing things that matter to them is what a networking event should be. But as the party season approaches, we're reminded that having to remember names under pressure, locate budget-respecting venues, and quaff budget-respecting booze is often the reality. Networking events can be minefields, so the least we can do is try to make them as bearable for each other as possible.

To help us do so, I caught up with Bray Leino’s Matt Henkes to discuss some of our worst experiences working the net. The resulting list of six people to avoid isn’t a witch hunt as much as a deterrent for bad networking behaviour. Read it carefully, and feel free to share your own anecdotes in the disused comment section below.

1. The nepotist

This crime against networking is especially pertinent in the agency game where the suspect has both power and influence. If a would-be client drops into conversation that their daughter, son, cobbler or ex-husband is looking for work experience over the summer holidays, the keen-to-please agent will grapple with every instinct not to refuse.  

Surely enough, June arrives and two days into the imposed internship it becomes quite clear that their poor loved or ex-loved one has absolutely no interest in your business whatsoever.

2. The bullshitter

Often saturated with jargon, you can hear the bullshitter's patter from a few tables over, although more often than not you’ll be sitting next to them. Your run-of-the-mill BS merchant will have a flagrant disregard for whatever anyone else says or thinks, will go off in monologues about the semi-fictional team they manage, and tell spurious tales of personal progression only half-based on a true story.

The one bonus here is they’re often too self-involved to notice criticism, so insult accordingly.

3. The stalker

Like the stalkers we hear about in the news, this networker-to-avoid will take a multichannel approach, both on and offline. Of course there’s the monitoring that goes on before the event (social checks, email address guessing, hobby learning etc), but the first time you’ll become aware of them is on the day itself. They’ll be the one taking advantage of the unwritten rules of social etiquette by cornering you until you make it quite clear they're becoming a nuisance.

By and by, this will be followed with an email along the lines of: ‘Just checking you’re okay as I hadn’t heard back from you on my last email?’ To which you should consider replying forcefully.

4. The badge hawk

To qualify you as worthy of their time, this networker will scan upwards from your name tagged navel upon making your acquaintance. By the time their eyes are somewhere between your neck and chin they’ll have mentally calculated whether or not you fit their criteria – these people come with a plan. On falling short, you’ll finally be met with a glazed expression before they begin searching over your shoulder for someone more worthwhile.

5. The high horse rider

“You’re going to say ‘hello’ to me apropos of nothing as if this is some kind of opportunity to interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts?”

Anyone affronted by conversation at a networking event can bog off, and I don't know that much else needs to be said about it.  

6. Anyone who takes it too seriously

Many prissy articles online advise on how professional adults should behave at networking events (yes, I know). One from a notable publisher goes as far as to say that you shouldn't accept food and drink because “...you can be perceived as a free-loader, selfish, cheap, and that your priority is filling-up, not making connections," which is obviously absurd.

Just because you attend these events because of work doesn't mean they need to feel like work.