Fear of networking can result in really embarrassing yourself.

It’s time to get out there and do that networking thing. Lets face it; hardly any of us really look forward to it yet we all know it is a critical exercise that we must engage in in order to move whatever we want forward.

Job search. Funding for your startup idea. Recruiting a new CTO. All of these will require you to find strangers and start a conversation. Come on, it’s what all great leaders do every day. Now it’s your turn.

Here are 17 ways to completely blow it:

  1. You find the farthest corner of the room and never leave.
  2. You bring your resume with you to hand out.
  3. Your business card has “Ninja” somewhere on it.
  4. You use cheesy pickup lines like you are in a bar.
  5. You over-smile or feign excitement.
  6. You spend too much time around the “got to meet” guest.
  7. You overstay your allotted 2-5 minutes per person.
  8. You continually look over the person’s shoulder you are talking to hoping to upgrade to someone more important to you.
  9. You never ask your counterpart about their life.
  10. You awkwardly invade their personal space.
  11. You spend more time with your phone than talking to live humans.
  12. You are over-aggressive with your networking agenda as you check off connections.
  13. You put on an “I don’t need this air”.
  14. You dress wrong. It can be under AND over dressed.
  15. You talk more than listen.
  16. You ask for a job.
  17. You don’t follow up.

I did not learn the art of networking until just a few years ago. An effective networker builds these skills over time. Not sure what to do and what not to do. Read the list but also watch the room. And learn.