The 5 “Don’t's” for Attending Events, Networking or Otherwise
Even the world’s most introverted person will at some point in his or her life have to attend an event. From weddings to funerals, from nonprofit galas to company picnics, you cannot avoid small talk, worrying about what to wear or what to drink, and the dreaded “my feet hurt” when you simply cannot find somewhere to sit. Events are a way of life, and eventually you’re going to have to go to one.
I started my career planning political fundraisers, and then moved into the realm of nonprofit events and conferences, weddings, and even planned a funeral in my day. Recently, I’ve dedicated my time to Step Up Women’s Network as the chair of its Shine & Dine Gala, and I’m so excited this week marks the event coming to fruition.
So in honor of Shine & Dine and all of the events you might be attending this summer or in the future, I’m bringing you the 5 “Don’t's” for attending events. These are the cardinal sins you shall not commit from weddings to funerals to networking events.
- Never never never remove your shoes at an event. Any coworker or intern who has ever worked with me or for me knows I have this rule and I never let anyone break it. There is literally no time or place at any event or outing where it is permissible to remove your shoes (the only exception is for an event where yoga or another athletic and appropriately barefoot activity occurs). What happens when you remove your shoes at an event? You look either A) drunk or B) sloppy, or the worst….sloppy drunk. I don’t care how much your feet hurt, barefoot in a cocktail dress is never pretty. So wear shoes you can stand in, not the ones you’ll inappropriate kick off on the dance floor.
- Don’t get drunk. No really, don’t. I’ve heard far too many stories about sales conferences or staff outings where someone has just one too many drinks and suddenly becomes “that girl.” Don’t be that girl! You’re an adult, and by this time in your life, you should know your tolerance for alcohol. Take that into consideration at the beginning of the night, not in the middle when you’ve already gone too far. You have enough class and beauty to be interesting and captivating on one or two glasses of wine, not five or six.
- Never neglect transportation. Especially when you’re attending a large-scale event like a sporting event or a concert, never neglect that you need to get home somehow. Can you catch a cab on the corner after the Bulls game gets out? Unlikely. Take the time to plan ahead. Find a ride with a friend, call Uber to pick you up, or bring your own car if you can. No one wants to be left standing along on a street corner with your arm up unable to get a taxi. Plan ahead! And always always always bring some cash to pay the cabbie if you need it.
- Don’t forget, every event is a networking opportunity! If you’re attending a gala or other kind of social event, it may be tempting to leave the business cards at home and forget about networking for the night. Wrong! You’re likely going to be meeting people at your table, in line for the bar, and throughout the evening. Don’t waste the opportunity to make good connections for your career just because the event is a social one.
- Don’t go in without knowing what you’re doing. Most organizations or event planners will send out a detailed agenda of the event in the days prior. Take time to read these details! You never want to be the person who walks in during the quietest part of the event because you wanted to be “fashionably late.” Read the fine print, have a plan for the evening, and don’t go in expecting to follow someone else’s lead. Know the details!
So whenever you’re attending an event, do your homework, have fun, and prepare in advance so you won’t become the perpetrator of one of these “don’t's.”