The dictionary defines etiquette as conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority in social or official life.
To me – Good Networking Etiquette is in simple terms, just the good manners your Mama taught you.
So with this definition as a guiding principle, etiquette is even more important in a networking situation than in others because most who are in the "taking" end do not even realize that their behaviors - and even attitudes - are making it hard for those at the "giving" end to be gracious about being considerate.
Are you –
· In Sales
o Sales Reps use networking to build relationships with potential and existing clients, prospects, and vendors. Let’s face it; people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
· Looking for a job
o According to the Wall Street Journal, 94% of new job finders cited networking as their primary mode of job search.
· Have a job
o Think you don’t have to network because you’re not looking for a job or in sales? Think again. A recent poll by Inc.com found that 48% of their readers believed that personal connections are the primary factor that most often leads to getting ahead in an organization. No matter how qualified you are, unless you have strong relationships with key players, your advancement opportunities are limited.
Here are some ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for Good Networking Etiquette –
· Arrive on time or better yet, arrive early. Check out the location. Meet the host.
· Wear a name tag. Wear it on your right side so that it is visible when you shake hands.
· Have plenty of business cards that are easily accessible. (Men do not carry your cards in your back pocket.) (Ladies – you do not want to have to dig in your purse for your cards. Better yet, leave the big bulky purse in the car. Either wear a jacket with pockets or carry a small shoulder bag so as to keep your hands free.)
· Eat before the event or arrive early, eat and then network. To me there’s nothing worse than someone eating and trying to talk about their business.
· (I found this to be interesting in my research) Most people do not like to talk while they are in the food and/or beverage the line, but they do in the dessert line. So a good place to position yourself is near the desserts.
· If you have to have a drink, carry or hold it in your left hand so that your hand isn’t wet when you shake hands.
· Don’t know anyone at the event? No problem – Go introduce yourself to the person who looks lost. “Good things don’t happen to those who wait – They happen to those who initiate.”
· When introducing yourself, say your full name and your company name, especially in a business situation.
· Women should extend their hand first, especially to a man. Have a firm not a weak or death grip handshake – web to web.
· Have a 5 to 10 second infomercial prepared – KISS (Keep it Simple). Focus on the benefit or goal of your business. Have it well rehearsed so that it is will sound natural.
o For example: “I help people keep in touch with their clients and prospects with affordable marketing solutions.” And then say – “And what do you do?” put the focus back on them.
· Focus on the person you’re talking with. Make eye contact at least 60% of the time. Or you can look at their facial features. Smile and nod your head. Your non-verbal communication will indicate that you care and have a genuine interest in what they are saying.
· Listen 80% and talk 20%. It’s not about you; it’s about getting to know them. Ask thoughtful questions, i.e. How did you get started in business? Or What is the most interesting aspect of your business?
· If you are interested in following up with them, ask for their business card. Look at it. Comment on it or ask a question. Again show interest. Don’t automatically hand over your card, although that is what most people do and expect. Wait for them to ask for it.
· Spend a minimum of 10 minutes with each person so as not to monopolize their time. After all you are both there to meet people. To excuse yourself, find someone that would be good for them to meet and introduce them. Or simply say, ‘It has been a pleasure chatting with you, and ask it you can follow up with them (if that is what you want to do).
· Follow up and keeping in touch is key. This makes you memorable. The best way is to send a hand written note(if you got their snail mail). If not, send an email or even better, a phone call to arrange a one on one meeting for coffee or lunch.
· If you receive a referral or lead from someone, be sure to send a Thank You note, even if the referral or lead doesn’t work out. Letting the person know you appreciate their help will keep you top of mind when something else comes up.
· Ask permission to add them to email newslettersand distribution lists. When you follow up with them is a good time to ask if you didn’t ask when you initially met them.
Understanding and applying good networking etiquette will empower you to build and nurture your own network. These lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships begin with projecting an outstanding impression, but are sustained through trust and the investment of time and effort to help others.
Practicing good etiquette will not only get what you want, it will also help position you in a different way in the eyes of those who are at the "giving" end!
After all – Good Etiquette is the lubricate that makes things move smoothly.”
Get out there and Network!
"Helping You and Your Business Look Good"