5 Tips for Excellent Networking Etiquette
I love networking. Yes, I really love spending time connecting and reconnecting with people and learning how I can help them, how they might be able to help me and most of all learning various perspectives on life, business and this crazy world we’re living in.
Here’s what I don’t love: dedicating time to networking and feeling like I’m being taken advantage of, or that I’m interacting with grown adults who don’t have common sense around manners and general etiquette when it comes to networking.
I say this all the time, networking isn’t easy. If it was I wouldn’t have a job! For most people simply hearing the word, networking, causes ones heart to either beat super fast or sometimes people forget to breathe and generally produces an overwhelming sense of anxiety.
That being said, there are tons of actions one can take to create an ideal networking situation and that starts with having good networking manners!
The thing is you might not even know that your networking game isn’t up to par. Or perhaps that you’re coming across as rude, disrespectful or selfish and that’s why I want to share a few thoughts around what I’ve experienced and learned as a Professional Networking Coach & Consultant.
*Disclaimer* - The following tips and tools are my own ideas, crafted from my values, my belief system and most of all stemming from thousands of networking meetings and events during my life. If you happen to disagree with anything I suggest I’d love to hear your thoughts as there’s no perfect formula for networking and we can all learn from each other.
5 Tips for Excellent Networking Etiquette
(These tips can be applied to any networking situation and are specifically applicable for 1:1 or Small Group Networking Meetings)
#1. Be on time - No, Be Early!
I’m a big time person and I really, really value my own time and the time other’s are taking to meet with me. Being late for a networking meeting, especially if you’re having a 1:1 meeting is a sure fire way to make a bad first impression. Also, PLEASE DON’T walk up to the person you’re meeting while you’re still on the phone, it’s SO rude!
#2. Running late? It’s ok, we’re all human! Communicate + Apologize.
That being said do whatever you can, while being safe, to let the person know that you’re running late so that they aren’t sitting and wondering if they’ve just been stood up. For example if you’re driving pull over for 30 seconds and GIVE the gift of respect to the person you’re meeting by telling them you’re running late. We all have access to technology and to smart phones so there’s no reason not to communicate that you’re en route and apologize both via email/text and as soon as you arrive!
If you choose the location (and parking is notoriously hard aka Cherry Creek,Downtown Denver etc) don’t show up late and then complain about parking or use parking as the reason for you being late.Take responsibility for your life, and your choices and give yourself extra time to get to your destination, park and show up on time/early.
#3. Choose a Place That is Convenient for all Parties Involved.
Finding a place shouldn’t be a complicated process. Here’s how I handle this.
If I’m seeking someone’s time, knowledge, advice etc, I ALWAYS make it as convenient as possible for them to meet. That means I let them pick where we meet and what time. Of course, if I have a conflict I’ll suggest a few times that work on my end and see if any of those work for them, but I always ask them to tell me what’s most convenient for them.
If both parties involved are seeking each other out then find out where they’ll be coming from and do a quick google search of coffee shops, libraries etc that are halfway for each party involved.
Always think about parking! If you live in crowded, urban city or setting suggest venues that not only have an abundant amount of tables or areas to connect but that are easy for people to find and to park. Having to go around the block multiple times or easily pulling into a parking lot will set the tone of the meeting and help all parties involved relax before a meeting.
#4. Your Phone Needs to be Out of Sight, Period.
Put your phone away. Yes, completely out of sight, make sure it’s on silent and for the love of networking don’t use it to ‘take notes’. There’s so much research that indicates how distracting and rude it is to have your phone our while trying to communicate and interact with other human beings.
According to Adam Popescu who wrote Keep Your Head Up: How Smartphone Addiction Kills Manners and Mood’. Popescu wrote, ‘Some 75 percent of Americans believe their smartphone usage doesn’t impact their ability to pay attention in a group setting, according to the Pew Research Center, and about a third of Americans believe that using phones in social settings actually contributes to the conversation.
But does it?
Etiquette experts and social scientists are adamantly united: Nope.
That “always-on” behavior that smartphones contribute to causes us to remove ourselves from our reality, experts said. And aside from the health consequences, if we’re head down, our communication skills and manners are slumped, too. But, ironically, that might not be how most of us see ourselves.
It really bugs me when people say, “Sorry, I have to have my phone out because……” Listen, no one is more important or busier than the next person. If you want to make a good impression and be a strategic connector than do yourself and the person/people you’re meeting with and put your phone away. If you MUST check your phone, politely tell the person you’re talking to and then put it back away.
#5. Take Notes + Follow Up
Someone really smart once said, “Fortune is in the follow-up.” Now, I have no idea who said that but they are spot on!
If you want to ensure that you’re paying attention, showing respect for the person you’re connecting with and have content to use for following up then taking notes is a no brainer. If you use a smart device to take notes make sure and tell the person you’re with that that’s what you’re using it for, that way they won’t think you’re scrolling through emails, LinkedIn or Facebook while you’re meeting.
Personally, I’m a fan of pen and paper. It’s old school, yes, but it also helps me focus my attention on who I’m meeting with and according to this NPR Article, ‘Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away’, by Pam A. Mueller of Princeton University and Daniel M. Oppenheimer of the University of California found that “... the students taking notes by hand still performed better. "This is suggestive evidence that longhand notes may have superior external storage as well as superior encoding functions.”
However you decide to take notes, the message I want you to walk away with is, ‘be prepared to take notes’ and of course if you’ve already spent the time networking and taking notes, do yourself a favor and follow-up!
Sending a handwritten thank you card and/or email is key to continuing a budding relationship and ensuring that you’ll be memorable. Don’t wait for the other person to follow-up, take the lead and wow them with your good manners and networking skills!
I hope you’ve enjoyed these tips and again, feel free to share your own networking tips for excellent manners and etiquette by clicking here! I’ll be looking forward to hearing how you ensure you’re making great first (second and third) impressions and creating relationships on the basis of mutual respect.
Have a wonderful day and as always stay connected,