Brush up your networking etiquette. It’s not about you! Make one person feel comfortable at every event
Do you ever wonder which sadist put eating, drinking, standing up and networking in the same sentence?
At networking events, do you feel genetically challenged and your fine motor movements suddenly seize up? Does securely balancing your glass, clutching a cocktail napkin and finger-food plate in your sticky fingers become an impossible task?
Do you dread slickly producing your business card with a smooth sleight of hand of hand, while simultaneously delivering some pithy, riveting sound bite about the value proposition of your business (or yourself) in one easy movement? All this of course at the same time as other physical aforementioned challenges?
Do you create a danger zone and is anyone else physically at risk, if cutlery is involved in any part of this process? A spoon, but heaven forbid… a fork?
Do you quake at the prospect of elbowing your way to one of those high cocktail tables, overcoming nausea at the un-appetizing buffet detritus, squeezing your plate in and asking if you can join the group?
Does the thought of a chirpy encounter with a cool, calm and connected fellow networker purring “Tell ME all about YOU”, fill you with total horror?
When you see the phrase “walking dinner” on your invitation do you immediately groan and think “foot petals”?
Does your handbag appear take on the same demolition potential as a sledgehammer?
Does root canal work sound appealing in comparison?
You are probably in the majority.
I have read, written spoken, coached and consulted on networking for many years. But while we are exhorting the newbie networker to get out there and perfect their elevator sound bites, dive into the networking scrum and no end of other challenging strategies, there is one overlooked piece of networking etiquette that deserves to be resurrected by every networker, confident or otherwise. We should all aim to make one other networker comfortable at an event. All it takes is a few words:
- Please join us…
- Can I help you with …?
Being a good networker isn’t all about being cool. It’s not just about making your perfect pitch, collecting cards or securing appointments. It’s about embracing others. If you are genuinely a good networker you will be empathetic towards, and aware of, the people around you and help them feel at ease. You will remember your networking etiquette
The man or woman struggling with their carefully constructed bite sized tortilla, miniature tiramisu, or diminutive shrimp on an oversized garnished spoon might very well be useful connection or have something of value to add.
If you are truly a skilled networker, you should add to your networking strategy: make at least one person feel comfortable at any event.
Let’s start to reconsider what constitutes good networking etiquette.