Over 25+ years I’ve attended hundreds of AmCham events, chaired dozens, and observed first-hand the 10 Biggest Mistakes Members Make:
1. You join but don’t attend.
Hey, it’s like a dance. You don’t just buy a ticket, you need to show up and have fun. It’s your presence and participation that makes it worthwhile, both for you and the other people attending. So, stop depriving us of your company. Let’s dance!
2. You appear but don’t interact.
You show up but that’s all. You attend but don’t participate. You come but don’t contribute. You take your name tag, eat lunch, say hi to your friends (if you have any), but fail to initiate interaction with people whom you don’t know. Bet you didn’t know that psychological research shows that you can improve your good luck by 40% simply by increasing your interactions with people. So, get lucky!
3. You skip the networking.
You dine but dismiss the social interaction. You arrive just in time for the meal then depart just as the speaker finishes. This ensures that you’ll meet no new people, have no new interactions, have no chance of growing. Fact: AmCham events are engines of social interactions not silos of solitude. The world awaits your participation. Join us.
4. You’re invisible.
You make no effort to be visible, you blend into the crowd, you’re wall paper. You hide among friends, seek only familiar faces and basically act like a socially inept person rather than the adult business person that you are. So, how’s that working out for you?
5. You expect others to make the first move.
You wait to be approached, recognised, spoken to. You expect others to initiate interaction with you. You fear that they don’t speak your language (hint: everybody at AmCham speaks business). You think you have nothing in common with anybody else in the room. (Hint: if they’re attending the same event as you, you have that in common.)
6. You think exchanging business cards at events is networking.
No, swapping little bits of cardboard embossed with your name is not networking, nor does it build trusting relationships. Your contact information is useful only if somebody wants to contact you. There is no substitute for a live, human, substantive, personal interaction. That’s the real purpose of AmCham events: to facilitate trustworthy business relationships via human interaction. Remember this statistic: it takes 5-8 face to face meetings to engender trust.
7. You quit early.
You give up too soon. You flit, hop and buzz from one person, table, topic, company to another never giving yourself the time and space necessary to create a trusting relationship. You’re not a business person, you’re a bumblebee! But AmCham isn’t a garden, it’s a chamber of commerce for serious business people. So, get serious.
8. You talk but you don’t converse.
You have non-conversations. You blather about weather, sport, the economy. You never get around to talking about the things that build relationships, like describing and documenting the problem-solving capacities of your business. So, can you tell me in 25 words (or fewer) what’s unique about your business? Can you tell me in 25 words (or fewer) what brings you to AmCham today?
9. You arrive naked.
You have no agendum, no plan, no idea. You just show up, free of intentions, purpose, and meaning. You don’t even know why you signed up in the first place. You don’t bother to articulate what you can offer. (Is it a secret?) Basically, you’re a pot plant. (Hint: enter an AmCham event with a minimum and maximum expectation written down beforehand – i.e. what’s the least benefit you’ll accept, what’s the greatest benefit you could receive.)
10. You’re clueless about etiquette and ‘netiquette’.
Every group has social mores and rules. Observe the protocols of good networking, both in person at events and in email follow ups.
Relax, it’s AmCham, you’re among friends.
You’re given great latitude. Just display and demonstrate your trustworthiness instead of overly promoting yourself at every opportunity and you’ll be fine. In sum, it takes courage to meet new people. So be brave! See you at the next AmCham event.