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Ain't Miss Behavin' - 5 Tips for Excellent Networking Etiquette About?

I love networking. Please note, that is not said with a tone of sarcasm. I really do love spending time connecting with people to learning how I can help them, how they might be able to help me and most of all being exposed to various perspectives on life, business and this crazy world we’re living in.

Here’s what I don’t love about networking; expending time and effort then being subjected to grown adults who have forgotten about common sense manners and general etiquette when it comes to networking.

I get it, networking isn’t easy. If it was, I wouldn’t have a job! For some people simply hearing the word, networking, causes heart palpitations.  For others they stop breathing, producing an overwhelming sense of anxiety.  And unfortunately for a number of people, they get so stressed out about it, they forget simple manners.

There are tons of actions one can take to create an ideal networking situation but starting with basic manners will always serve you well.   

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 and working with others as a Professional Networking Coach & Consultant.  

Tip #1 - Be On Time, Better Yet… 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. Bonus tip:  PLEASE DON’T walk up to the person you’re meeting while you’re on the phone, it’s rude!

Tip #2 - Communicate + Apologize If Your are Running Late

Yikes, this violates tip #1 but we are all human, it happens.  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 mobile devices so there’s no reason not to communicate that you’re en route and apologize both via email/text/voice and as soon as you arrive!

 If you choose the location (and parking is notoriously hard (e.g. Cherry Creek, Downtown Denver) don’t show up late and then complain about parking or use parking as the reason for you being late. Take responsibility.  And, give yourself extra time to get to your destination, to park and to show up on time/early.

Tip #3 - Choose a Place That is Convenient for All Parties Involved and Sets a Positive Tone from the Start

Here’s how I handle what can become a complicated process if you let it.

If I’m seeking someone’s time, knowledge, or advice 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 and seating availability when you are recommending a location. 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. Easily pulling into a parking spot vs having to go around the block multiple times will definitely set a different tone for the meeting. 

Tip #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 out while trying to communicate and interact with other human beings. 

We hear it all the time,, “Sorry, I have to have my phone out because…” But the reality is, no one is more important or busier than the next person. If you want to make a good impression and be a strategic connector then 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 away again.

Tip #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!

To help you stay focused, to show respect for the person you’re connecting with and to have content to use for following up, then taking notes is a no brainer.  Using pen and paper for your notes would be the best option since your phone/devices are put away.  However, if you must 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 so they won’t think you’re scrolling through emails, LinkedIn or Facebook while you’re meeting.

However you decide to take notes, the message I want you to walk away with is simply take notes and use them to follow up.  You’ve invested time in networking, don’t let your return on networking tank by not following up. 

Sending either a handwritten thank you card or an email that includes tidbits from your conversation (this is where the notes come in) 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!

Ready to increase your return on networking?  Consider working with a coach, I happen to know one.  


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