5 RULES OF BEING A COURTEOUS NETWORKER
I will preface this post by saying all networking engagements (whether one-on-one or in groups), are innately different, so this is not to be seen as a be-all, end-all for networking strategy. Rather it is a compilation of courteous behaviors to consider where necessary.
BE A LISTENER:
Who has ever been dominated during a conversation, hard-pressed to get a word in edgewise? Part of the magic that can unfold during a one-on-one or group networking engagement, is the give and take of genuine conversation. True bonds are created when all parties can relate to one another on a human level. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the complexities of someone else. Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers. Try to avoid small talk just to carry on meaningless conversation. Instead ask compelling questions that show you are listening and interested in hearing what the other person has to say. Don’t turn the subject around on yourself and steal conversation, rather be courteous and add value to the conversation when you speak.
It can be intimidating attending a networking event by yourself; walking into a room of semi-familiar and unfamiliar faces. Rest assured, you are not the only person who is feeling this anxiety. The world is made up of all types with varying degrees of social anxiety. Take comfort in the fact that everyone in attendance at the event is there for the same reason…to network. So relax and be yourself. Let the true you show through. You will make more robust connections if you do.
Which brings me to another VERY important point…
COOL IT WITH THE “HARD SELL”
Certainly be strategic about what events you attend and which one-on-ones you schedule, but don’t let that strategy, compromise your integrity of being human. No one (and I repeat NO ONE), likes to be blind-sided by entering (what they believe to be a genuine cup of coffee between two individuals) into a mini-sales seminar on why working with them brings you value. Create HUMAN CONNECTIONS first and business will FOLLOW. Giving someone the “hard sell” is a major turnoff. This is not an advisable way to make friends!
BE CONSIDERATE OF TIME:
Be ON TIME but also be AWARE of time. If your one-on-one has informed you they have a 3:30pm meeting, giving about 45 minutes to chat, be aware of that. Likewise, it goes without saying you should NEVER be late. Plan to arrive 10 minutes early if possible. If you suspect you will be late, make a phone call to keep your one-on-one in the loop! One more thing to add: even if you find someone fabulous, don’t steal their ear all night. People will often be too nice to tell you they have to move on so take the hint yourself. After about 10 minutes it is your cue to wrap up conversation. Be sure to exchange information and follow up with a one-on-one if you would like to learn more.
FOLLOW UP THANK YOU
Always follow up with a Thank You note. If your communications took place mainly via email, send a quick reply. In the digital age, a written note may not be necessary, but certainly has its place when you are trying to make a strong impression. Use short, concise content with a touch of wit. Make mention to something you talked about to show you were a good listener. Don’t overthink it, In general everyone just appreciates a thank you.
DISCLAIMER: if you’re meeting was with a “hard-seller,” there is no need for a thank you of any kind. It could be misconstrued as a sign of interest resulting in the immediate add to their weekly newsletter distribution list.