Many networking event attendees seem to believe there is some kind of competition to see who can meet the most people, collect the most cards or eat the most food. Fortunately our networking guru Colleen Clarke has 9 guidelines for business networking.
Attending a business or social function alone can be intimidating and disconcerting unless you follow these guidelines:
1. Arrive a little early so as to get comfortable with the room before it fills up. If you can take on the persona of a hostess or host rather than a guest you will feel much more comfortable meeting and greeting new arrivals.
2. Stand tall, look at people, shake hands, and smile. Enter a room with an air of confidence. If there was ever a time to “fake it till you make it,” it’s now! And when you shake hands, only pump their hand 2 or 3 times.
3. Locate the food table. Position yourself to meet people. Everyone filters towards the buffet table or bar at some point.
4. Hold your drink in your left hand; shake with your right. Wrap a napkin around the glass you’re holding to keep your hand dry.
5. Reintroduce yourself to people you know first. Start with a familiar face. if someone is fumbling with your name, introduce yourself right away and spare that person any embarrassment.
6. Spend 99.9 % of your time after an introduction asking questions about the other person or their business. At this initial meeting stage people just aren’t too interested in you or what you do, their comfort is in talking about themself.
7. Approach only groups of three or more; two people may be having a personal tête-a-tête. Stand on the outside of the group until there is a break in the conversation or until you are acknowledged to join in.
8. Leave when you say you’re going to leave and be sure to thank the organizer before you go.
9. Do what you say you will do. Follow through on any actions you said you would make. If you promised to email information with a contact name do it as soon as you return to your office.
The more networking opportunities you take advantage of, the more comfortable you will become with the rules of “netiquette.”