Networking Etiquette

As my job for the last eight years has involved connecting people in business, I often get asked all kinds of questions and tips on networking- the do’s and dont’s and I really have come across everything there is to witness in the world of networking, so here are a few things I’d like to pass onto you…

  1. Always stand when being introduced– As we all know first impressions really count, so present yourself in a strong , secure manner and have the courtesy to stand when someone offers their hand or introduces themselves to you.
  2. Watch your language- No one likes a potty mouth, especially when in a business environment, so no matter how well you find yourself ‘clicking’ with someone, reserve your relaxed language for when around your friends and family- again first impressions really count and you don’t want to appear unprofessional.
  3. Be clear- State your name clearly when introducing yourself, make eye contact when speaking with someone and don’t make it difficult for the person on the receiving end to understand or hear you – make them remember you after the conversation finishes.
  4. Be brief- Practise your ‘elevator pitch’ before attending a network event- in other words prepare your introduction and keep it brief and intriguing. Many people panic when asked ‘what do you do’ and this opens the gateway for a whole load of waffle, leaving the person on the receiving end no option but to switch off, whilst nodding politely looking for the nearest escape route.

5.Hide your phone– Looking at ones phone whilst talking to someone is deemed exceptionally bad manners, in particular whilst networking, so keep it in your pocket and if it needs answering urgently, excuse yourself from the conversation politely and take the call somewhere private.

I recently had a conversation with a guy who proceeded to look at his phone the entire time he was having a conversation with me, which lead me to stare at his phone quite obviously to point out his rudeness, making him aware of my annoyance- his phone very quickly went in his pocket after that!

6.Don’t interrupt– These may seem like really basic things, but many people; even in adulthood haven’t yet grasped the art of listening and as Stephen. R. Covey once said- ” Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”- so stay one step ahead of ‘most’ people.

7.Don’t force yourself onto people– Sounds seedy right- but this one I get asked all the time- it’s quite easy to see a group of people in conversation and want to be a part of it, but when it comes down to it- how do you access the group without seeming rude?  My advice- hover near the group making eye contact with at least one of them and hopefully they will acknowledge you in time and welcome you into the group naturally, without you having to stop the flow of conversation abruptly looking like a real plonker in the process.

8.Stay positive– No one likes a grump, so in conversation leave out negative stories and tales of self pity, instead focus on what is great about your business right now and encourage the person you are engaging with to do the same-pay a compliment- the moment you do this, you will see the atmosphere of the conversation switch and it will make the experience more memorable for them and you.

Happy Networking!

Fiona Duncan, RSViP