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Myths about networking: 5 common misconceptions about connecting with business partners
Networking is a delicate art that requires finesse. Once you learn how to do it, building your network of contacts is actually fun and exciting. But just like any business venture, networking has been obscured by myths and superstitions. It's important to move past these misconceptions so you can really get in the swing of networking. Only then will it start getting easier to make contacts.

We put together a list of 5 of the most prominent and toxic stigmas about networking that keep people worrying instead of making the most of their careers.

1. Networking is an innate talent.

The first thing on our list is the first thought that comes into most people's heads: "I can't do it." "Networking is an innate talent: some people have it, and some don't." This is just plain false. Networking is a skill that you can be progressively get better at to achieve your goals. Anyone can learn how to do it if they practice methodically every day. Of course, the theory that some people are extraverts with good communication skills from the get-go is partially true. But introversion isn't a condemnation. Experts have confirmed that, more often than not, introverts have a better understanding of networking and are adept at it. Remember: everything is difficult when you first try it. But then every new contact you make will get easier and easier. As for the best way to train yourself and get ready to network, see our previous post about it on our blog.

2. Networking = selling yourself

A typical rookie mistake is starting off by selling yourself or your product when you first meet someone. That's not how networking works. Of course, some might use a first meeting to expand their client base, but that's a toxic behavior. The foundation for making connections is using a win-win strategy, when two people will each benefit. To build relationships and create strong contacts over a long period, try to be useful, but don't try to sell yourself. Pushy salespeople are always a nuisance. Networking requires active effort and making yourself useful to your partner.
3. Contests

Turn swapping business cards into a game. At the start of the event, announce that rewards will be given out to the attendees who speak to the most people. Offer a prize to whoever collects the most business cards. Remember that the prize needs to be something that people want to win. For example, a one-on-one meeting with one of the event speakers or a consultation with one of the event experts. Instead of business cards, you could use stickers in specific colors or other visual markers that attendees have to collect.

4. Event app that can filter attendees

Picture it: an app that lets users narrow down a list of thousands of attendees to the person they actually need to connect with. Get the app up and running before the start of the event. This will create another platform for networking and will save attendees time at the event. This is exactly what the 2Meet app does. Filters and tags help users find people by interest, by field, or by needs and pain points. Once the user finds the person they're looking for, all they have to do is request a meeting to go over the details.
5. Completed profiles and participant list

If attendees fill out their profiles in detail and provide a clear description of their goals and objectives, it will increase their chances of finding a match when using filters to search for potential connections. Organizers should try to open up as many communication channels as possible when registering attendees. Tags will only be effective if all profiles are filled out correctly.

6. Hashtags

Encourage attendees to use the event's hashtags when posting photos or videos. This will help you track attendees' experience of the event, like posts, and add and tag people on the event's social media pages. In addition, photos and videos from specific people will be another conversation starter both online and offline.

7. Networking area

A well-equipped networking area is essential for any conference. You need to ensure that the area is sufficiently quiet for attendees to converse.

8. Conversation starters

Leave suggestions for conversation starters or phrases that will help overcome any initial awkwardness in the networking or coffee break areas. For example, some organizers have printed napkins with icebreaker phrases and written conversation starters on bottles of water. You could also add them to the first page of notepads given out at the conference, or print them on the back of attendee badges. Suggestions could include industry news stories or a collection of tweets on relevant issues. Attendees will definitely appreciate the effort.
Filters and tags help users find people by interest, by field, or by needs and pain points. Once the user finds the person they're looking for, all they have to do is request a meeting to go over the details.
9. Contact tree

Use a contact tree and a business card board. In a nutshell: attendees write about themselves and their services/skills on helpfully provided cards and attach them to the board. They can also use the board to learn information about their fellow attendees and take the business cards of people relevant to them.

10. Use attendee badges to maximum effect

Give out badges that are color-coded to reflect profession and job title. This will function as a way to "tag" participants offline. Write attendees' names and job titles in large print so others can see the information easily and avoid any awkwardness. Don't be afraid to get creative and use badges to help attendees start a dialogue. For example, you could add something like "Don't know how to localize a project? Ask me!"
A well-equipped networking area is essential for any conference. You need to ensure that the area is sufficiently quiet for attendees to converse.
These are just a few networking tools that will help conference attendees make the connections they need, set up meetings, or swap contact details. Most of these tools are created and implemented by event organizers, so make sure to keep them in mind and don't be afraid to use them. But don't forget that networking is primarily talking to people, and no single tool will replace solid preparation and a practiced elevator pitch. To read more about how to prepare for meetings and how to create a product presentation, check out our previous articles on the 2Meet blog.

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