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The 11 Worst B2B Networking Mistakes at Events

Trade fairs, congresses and events are top occasions to expand your business network. But be careful! The following mistakes definitely need to be avoided.

A well-developed business network helps immensely! Not only to do your job optimally, but also to remain attractive to the employment market. So off you go to the next business event to get to know new people, as there is no easier place to do so!

This being said, a lot of people make fundamental mistakes when networking and then wonder why they’re not getting anywhere.

Perhaps several of the following slips could be responsible for this?

Turning up to the Event Unprepared

Who am I going to meet there? Who has already signed up? What’s the event about? Who is organizing it? Do I have enough business cards? Which icebreakers can I prepare to get into conversation?

Which services does the event organizer offer to do some matchmaking before the event to network participants with each other? What is being posted on social networks about the event in the run-up and who’s saying what?

Create your own personal checklist and prepare well for the event. This will help you to already get in touch with interesting people prior to the event.

Judging, and Underestimating People by their First Impression!

It’s easy to let your first impression decide whether someone is interesting for you or not. But how often have you turned out to be wrong!

Psychologist and Nobel prize winner Daniel Kahneman knows and comments that “if your first impression is a mistake, it can take a while to realise this, as your expectations tend to be self-fulfilling“.  

Try to approach people as impartial as possible and don’t let yourself be deceived. Someone can be an introvert or not feel comfortable at events, however could still be a very important contact for you.

First impressions can often be misleading…

Treating the Business Card You Have Just Received Disrespectfully

In Japan, it is an absolute no-go, but also in the Western world the rule is: if someone gives you their business card, then it is a present. They are not only giving you personal contact details, but also something that a lot of people are very proud of. 

It is therefore bad manners to not look at the business card properly, or simply stick it in your pocket. Look at the business card and maybe you can think of a question or a comment regarding the company location etc. This solidifies your newly won business relationship contact tremendously!

Just Talking about Yourself

You also don’t like listening to someone constantly talking about themselves, do you? Even Voltaire knew to “judge a person by their questions rather than their answers “.

Open questions and active listening is the key to good small talk – and your conversation partner will receive you far more positively. 

Barging into Conversations

The general rule is: if two people are talking to each other at an event, it’s best not to butt in. It will be received as being very impolite. As soon as at least three people are involved, you can ask modestly if you can join. 

Remember to be a good host yourself and introduce people. Good networkers can be recognized in that they not only generate new contacts themselves, rather also actively network others with each other.


Aristoteles put it in a nutshell: “Covering a mistake with a lie is like replacing a stain with a hole.”

Even in times of “alternative facts”, where the truth doesn’t seem to be so trendy anymore, it doesn’t make a good impression if you falsely take credit, regurgitate solid half or quarter-knowledge and to say you know people you have never met. 

That doesn’t happen? Oh, yes it does, constantly! Honesty and authenticity is the way forward. Keep to the recommendation “if you don’t know something, it’s best to keep your mouth shut!” or ask about it – that’s even better.

Stealing Time

You’re not the only person at a B2B event who is networking. This is also the case for your conversation partner. Even if it is a nice, comfortable conversation, after a certain amount of time you should pay your conversation the respect due, exchange business cards, thank them for the conversation and move on. 

That isn’t impolite, rather highly professional. 

No Follow-Up

A good conversation at a B2B event doesn’t help at all if you don’t make the effort to follow up.

A nice e-mail or a call after the event helps to keep you in mend and solidify the contact. Who knows what it could lead to later…

No Addressing Your Conversation Partner by Name

Okay, some do it very well, others don’t – remembering names. If you know however, that you belong to the latter, practice! Or ask again. It isn’t a shame to admit that you have a bad memory when it comes to names and you have to ask a second time what someone is called.

That Is far better and more authentic than not addressing the person by name at all. Our names have been with us since birth. Being addressed by name is a sign of appreciation of an individual. 

Being Vague When Asked about Yourself

A while ago it was hip to say “I do something in media”. Whatever. When doing B2B networking, this is not in at all. Be clear when describing what you do. In particular, make it understandable for your conversation partner.

Don’t bore with too many details, rather be to the point when saying what you do. This helps you to avoid being secretive. As Einstein put it, “if you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough”.

Wearing Inappropriate Clothing

Your clothing is an expression of your personality. You must feel comfortable in your own skin. Still, the rule is, find out before an event which formal or informal dress codes there are. A lot of events have photos or videos on their website which can give you an impression.

You’ll probably dress differently for the Online Marketing Rockstars Festival or the SXSW as for an official reception at the Chamber of Commerce, right?

Bottom Line

Networking decides these days more and more how much success you have in your career. If you avoid these mistakes and stay authentic, you are sure to make progress!