Networking events: a place to make good contacts or a waste of time? Depending on the event and how you approach it, it could be either. But one thing's for sure. Every event you attend will present you with the same ridiculous cast of characters.
Don't believe me? Take a look at the list and then take note at your next event.
1. Barbie and/or Ken. Let's start with the best and possibly most pitiful. Barbie and Ken are almost always represented at these things, although sometimes you may only get one or the other. But they're there, all dolled up, their skin stretched way tight across their face. Why do they attend? Because they want you to look at them, of course. Looking in the mirror does get old after awhile, doesn't it? Oh, did I mention they are usually too old to try and look so young?
2. The leech. If you're extremely unlucky, you've gotten caught by the leech before. This is a person who isn't comfortable going up to new people and forming lots of connections. Instead, they will sense the easiest target, anyone who remotely shows any interest in them, and will attach themselves. Once they start sucking your blood, they'll be with you the entire night, gravy training on all your conversations.
3. The overly-important guy. This guy is out of place and he knows it. "Why the hell am I here," is written all over his face and you're wasting your time if you try and hand him your business card. He probably has a million business cards just like yours and won't remember you five seconds from now.
4. The newbie. Everyone is a networking rookie at one time. However, some handle it worse than others. They usually go around telling everyone, whispering out of the corner of their mouth, that they've "never been to one of these things." And they ask lots of annoying questions like "how does this work" and "what do we do now." Act like you've been there before, man!
5. The overly ambitious. The overly ambitious will not stop until they have shaken every hand and exchanged business cards with every person in the room. They typically talk so fast that you'd swear they were on something. Of course, being so ambitious, they will probably call you and may even be a good contact. So don't hesitate to talk to them.
6. The drunk. This one might be better than Barbie and Ken. More fun to watch anyway. These events almost always have free booze of some sort. Usually wine. Anyway, the drunk volunteers to attend these meetings because … well, he knows he'll get to drink for free (and not have to drink alone that night). Unfortunately, he almost always has too much and walks around glass-eyed, making little sense. It's a waste of your marketing time to talk to him, but it certainly adds to the entertainment value.
There, you see? I guarantee you'll find someone to slide into each category at your next networking event. Just wait and see.
Mickie Kennedy is the CEO and founder of eReleases and blogs at PR Fuel, where a version of this article first appeared.