While at a networking event on the beach recently, I noticed a man sitting on a bench by himself getting some sun. As I approached him, I said he’d make a good photo. He agreed … And went on to tell me how good looking he is. Without a breath – or even a glance to be sure I was still listening – he went on to tell me he was handsome enough to be a model or star-studded celebrity. Amused, I stood with him to hear his story, and what I learned from him is how not to behave at a networking event.

Don’t List Data

The man on the beach gave me data – about how he used to act, has a house on Long Island, and knows Eric Clapton. He went on and on telling me what he has and who he knows, but he never gave me a picture of who he is. He gave me data points but didn’t connect any of the dots. No picture of the person behind the tanned face emerged. I know what he isn’t – he isn’t a celebrity or a model. He didn’t paint a picture of who he is. Don’t just give data points.

Don’t Deliver a Monologue

My beach acquaintance talked nonstop. I’m not sure he took time for a breath. He didn’t give me air time.  He didn’t give me a chance to engage him in conversation. I didn’t want to change the subject; I was trying to engage him in his. Don’t dominate all the air time.

Don’t Lie

It’s too easy to discover the truth, so don’t lie. After telling me about flipping houses and traveling around the world with a well-known celebrity, it turns out he is a caretaker for his father. There’s nothing wrong with being a caretaker – but credibility can be destroyed in an instant if you portray yourself as someone you’re not.  Don’t spin a wild story that you think sounds better than the truth.

Don’t Judge

When he finally did give me the opportunity to say something, he was judgmental. “Do you really believe that?” I was asked; “No one does that!” I was told. Without knowing anything about me or my story, he told me that’s not how people are, not what people do.  Don’t argue or negotiate another’s story. 

“Anyone can talk, but not everyone knows what to say.” ― Rafaa Khiari