As we return to in-person events after adjusting to life through the screen, it’s easy to forget the basics of etiquette and communication when face to face with another human. Anxieties of being back in the room may creep up on you unexpectedly clouding your judgment, therefore affecting your behaviour whether conscious or not, so I have put together a few useful tips and reminders on how to best conduct yourself when attending networking events and socials in a bid to be the best version of yourself….
1. Acknowledgment – If someone approaches you, your eyes meet across the room or you are in conversation with someone, yet there is someone else waiting to speak to you, always, always acknowledge them in some way- even a subtle glance in their direction, eye contact and a smile or wave will do the trick, so that at least they know you have seen them and they are on your agenda to make your way to at some point when you are able.
2. Handshake – Focus on this – this is your chance to make a great first impression, to show confidence and assertiveness so make it firm, look the person in the eye and smile – its as simple as that.
3. Don’t be a space invader – What I mean by this is respect other people’s personal space. Create a one-meter distance from the person you are speaking to, in particular since the pandemic and if someone backs away from you, it is a sure sign that they feel you may be in their personal space, so don’t follow them- give them the space they need!
4. Use your left hand – whether comfortable to you or not, it is polite to use your left hand to eat any canapes or finger food that may be on offer at an event, to keep your right hand clean and food free for when shaking hands with others – an obvious one, but one so often missed. Hold your drink in your left hand too, to keep your right hand free and readily available to shake hands so you don’t leave people hanging when they approach you and reach out- this avoids any embarrassing faffing.
5. Body language – Keep it open and approachable- uncross your arms and open yourself up to a conversation. When speaking to people, show that you are giving them your undivided attention by turning your body square on towards them and give them signals every so often that you are engaged in what they are saying- a smile, a nod, eye contact etc..
6. Ask questions & listen – Networking is about helping others as opposed to selling in the room, so it is a complete no no to try to sell ‘at’ someone and a sure fire way to end a conversation as quickly as it began. Instead focus on getting to know the person, be interested and curious, ask questions, learn about them and above all listen to what they are saying so that you can steer the conversation in an interesting and creative way.
7. Be the connector – Invite others to join you in conversations – just an acknowledgement/eye contact is often enough, but don’t be afraid to make introductions, work the room and facilitate your own event within the event- this is top level networking and you will be remembered for your efforts.
Fiona Duncan-Steer – www.fionaduncansteer.com www.rsvipnetwork.co.uk