Here are a few things to keep in mind when you attend networking events! Good manners engenders goodwill and trust from others, and makes it more likely that others will want to work with you.
Don’t talk with your mouth full! 😉
Don’t chow down at the food station. Never talk with your mouth full. No one likes to talk with someone who is more interested in chomping away at the hor dourves. Did you come to eat or network. I usually eat before I arrive so I can spend more time networking.
Never stand on the sidelines. Get into the game.
Wear your name tag on your upper right shoulder, which is the natural place for people to look when they shake your hand. Never wear it hanging from your neck or upside down or with someone else’s name.
Never give your business cards out randomly. Be selective. Only give your card to someone with whom you have an interest in following up with.
It is not politically correct to arrive late. Always be on time. Show up early and stay late.
Don’t butt in when others are talking. Interrupting tells them you were not really listening or not interested. And don’t be a time hog. In other words, pay attention to what they are saying (you might learn something) and don’t be so quick to talk only about YOU. If you want others to pay attention to you, pay attention to them. Be patient. Conversation is a two-way street. Try not to be so set on your talking points that you miss what the other person has to offer. Listen more than you speak.
Dress to impress. Your image is what people see first. Present the “best” image of yourself. Business casual is the uniform of the day – depending on the event! Sloppy dressers won’t get referrals from me. Cut-offs and sandals are out.
Demonstrate your own self-confidence. Maintain a positive attitude about yourself and your accomplishments. Talking about yourself positively is not the same as bragging. Confidence attracts people.
Never text, Tweet, send e-mail or make phone calls during events or networking meetings. Be respectful of others. Turn your cell phone off or at least set it to vibrate. Place all your focus on the reason you chose to attend in the first place. If you must take a priority call, be sure to excuse yourself before you answer and step away from the area or – better yet – go outside where you won’t disturb others.
Introduce yourself but be careful not to bore people with a 30-second connection when informally meeting someone. Your so-called “elevator speech” or 30-second connection is usually intended for smaller group meetings where everyone is given an opportunity to introduce themselves. Develop a one-liner that tells them your name and clearly tells what you do and do it before you ever get to the event.
When you stumble on someone who you think you might like to follow-up with or include into your own personal network, show an interest in them. When receiving a business card, take the time to look it over and make a comment about it. Make notes on the back of their business card so you can remember something about them when you follow up. Allow them to see you do this. It demonstrates that they have aroused an interest in them.
Always remember, networking is all about building relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Building trust is generally not built in a single meeting. The trust part will develop when you are authentic in your relationships.
Keep your word! It you say you will follow-up, do it. If you say you will call, call.
The person standing right in front of you should always take priority. While at a networking event, never be caught looking over the shoulder of the person you are talking to for someone better to talk with. If they are a bore, give them the courtesy of a polite exit and then move on (e.g., “I need to refresh my drink, perhaps we will run into each other again later.”) Always exit conversations politely.
On the other hand, if they start to fidget, look around the room or use noncommittal words like “okay,” “interesting,” and “hmmm,” they are probably finished talking to you. Bring the conversation to a quick conclusion and move on. Another exit strategy is to excuse yourself shortly after someone else joins the conversation. I once saw a friend and decided to stop and say hello. He quickly introduced me to the person he was talking to and left. After spending a few minutes with the one he introduced me to, I realized why he left. It wasn’t long before I moved on. 😉
Be friendly, share a smile and make good eye contact. Intense eye contact can make you appear confrontational or confused. Too little contact can make you appear rude and disinterested. Be memorable, not just another face in the crowd. I often will say, “My name is Larry James, the guy with two first names” to help them remember me.
“When you call, leave a message. They know you called. Almost everyone has some sort of caller ID which will show that you did call. If you don’t leave a message, they won’t know if it’s an emergency or not. I mean they’ll probably know it’s not an emergency, but just do them a favor and tell them so.
Second. Leave your number. Twice. Leave it once at the beginning of the message and then once more at the end. At the very least, leave it at the beginning. That way, when they try to write it down, they don’t have to wait through the entire message a second time to make sure that they got it right.” ~ Greg Peters, The Reluctant Networker
Nobody likes a phoney! You can spot them across the room. Keep it real. There is nothing worse that being a fake for the sake of gaining contacts. Be yourself.
If you are holding a cold drink, hold it in your left hand. Icy fingers don’t work well when you shake hands.
Be a giver. . . not a taker. Never make a sales pitch at a networking event. Offer assistance to those you meet. If you know someone that they should know and you feel comfortable enough with them to namedrop. . . do it! An easy way to touch base with someone in your network is to clip out an article that you think might interest them and mail it to them – not e-mail – use a stamp!
When you receive a lead from someone, send them a hand-written thank-you note – not e-mail – use a stamp! Include your business card.
I often will ask someone I meet for networking advice. It does two things: I find out how much they know about networking and I might learn something. It’s also a good conversation starter. Ask: “Been networking long?” “What works best for you?” “What is the best technique you’ve discovered while networking?”
Make it a goal to do something for the people you meet. Doing something for someone without expecting anything in return is a very quick way to allow people to warm up to you.
Don’t substitute technology for face-to-face conversation. Small talk breaks the ice and puts others at ease. An occasional e-mail is okay, however, be sure to send e-mail without abbreviations and grammatical errors. It’s tacky and unprofessional. Spell-check email and re-read email before pushing the “send” button. Phone calls are better, and face-to-face meetings are best.
I know, it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. Always remember to say please and thank you.
There are many other dos and don’ts for networking. You are encouraged to comment on some of the ones you have found to be effective.
BONUS Articles: When You Shake Hands. . . Really Shake Hands!
Breaking the Ice at Networking Events
Business Etiquette: 5 Rules That Matter Now
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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