We all know the value of networking, but for many of us it doesn’t come naturally and can even be intimidating. SPN staff and experts have offered their insights in advice to make getting through the week of Annual Meeting both easy and rewarding.

What we haven’t talked about yet is what not to do. You don’t have to be the best networker, just don’t be one of the worst!

If you do nothing else, refrain from making these networking mistakes:

1. Don’t spam the room with your business cards.

Focus on quality connections rather than collecting and distributing business cards. Offer your business card (and ask for theirs) at the end of your conversation, and only if you genuinely plan to follow up with them. Annual Meeting is a big event, but its not that big. Attendees will be aware if you’re handing out cards to everyone.

2. Don’t scan the room during a conversation.

Nothing kills a conversation like feeling as if the person you’re talking to would rather be talking to someone else. If you need to be on the look out for someone, consider delaying any new conversations until you find them or let them find you.

3. Don’t “recite” your elevator speech.

You should have a concise explanation for who you are and what you do, but you should customize and adapt that “elevator speech” for each person and situation. Since the goal at a networking event is to have meaningful conversations, you don’t have to cram everything about yourself into your introduction. Be natural — mention who you work for and your role or the issues you work on, then wait for others to ask you follow up questions.

4. Don’t ask to “pick their brain.”

I heard this tip awhile back and I couldn’t agree more. Asking to “pick your brain” not only sounds wildly unappealing, but it very vague. Be specific and focused in your request, and your new contact is far more likely to say yes.

5. Don’t assume you should only talk about work.

Be a normal person! Express interest in attendees’ lives outside of work – what are their hobbies, do they have pets, what is the best TV show/movie they’ve seen recently? And feel free to reciprocate. You’ll be much more memorable if you express your personality as well as your areas of professional expertise.

Easy enough? Here are some things you should be doing!