Yesterday I talked about Business Etiquette tips when working with clients. Today I’m going to cover Business Etiquette while networking. I’m going to keep it very simple because it’s really not rocket science, it’s more common sense than anything else…but again, alot of people either may not be aware or just forget some basic and essential manners to have while networking.
So, here are things to avoid while you’re at that next networking event:
- Ignoring – have you ever been standing in a group of 3-4 people and the person talking to the group is only focusing their attention on one person (in their mind it’s likely the most “important” person for them that they want to connect with)?Problem? Yes. Not only does that make people feel left out and unimportant, but the next time you have a client to refer you’re likely not going to first think of that colleague who ignored you. I don’t believe at all that it matters if someone has only been in business for one week – you never know who they might know, and ignoring is not only rude but will cause you to lose business. Plus, we have all started somewhere!
- Drinking Excessively – most wedding industry events tend to have alcohol available. As I think it’s absolutely appropriate and part of our industry’s culture (i.e. – I host Thursday Therapy in Dallas), the danger lies when a wedding pro has WAY too much to drink. I’m not talking about a few glasses of wine, I’m talking about someone who is staggering down stairs, slurring their words so you can’t even understand them, etc. This person is not making a good name for themselves with other wedding pros, and many people may not want to trust that person with their clients. Not to mention, photos of that person can easily pop up on social media and could tarnish their reputation. Now, if it’s a one-off situation – things happen…but typically there tend to be people who make it a point every time they are networking to act like they’re at a frat party and forget they are being watched by their professional peers.
- Not Introducing Others – I see this one a ton. Let’s say Bob and Sally are talking just the two of them and catching up on busy season, and Jane comes up to say hi to Sally (she’s never met Bob). Jane talks Sally’s ear off about the mutual client they share, and completely ignores Bob – two problems here. First, Sally should have stopped and politely paused the conversation to introduce Bob to Jane as the two of them don’t know each other. Second, Jane could have introduced herself to Bob and tell him how she and Sally know each other. That would allow him to feel included, part of the conversation, and connect with Jane. Otherwise, Bob is likely going to find a way out of that conversation very quickly.
- Being a Wallflower – I used to be one. Truly. I was practically a mute in high school and it wasn’t until college that I came out of my shell…not immediately, it took practice, and alot of it. It is much more comfortable to sit with the friends you already know, wait until someone else approaches you to introduce themselves, etc. However, if you don’t stretch yourself to be bolder and introduce yourself to people you will likely be very frustrated with networking. So, instead of hanging in the back for 10 minutes at a networking event, seeing if you know anyone there, saying hi to them and then leaving…why don’t you try sticking it out a bit longer and make it a goal to meet at least 3 new people. And, not just a quick intro – really try to get to know them. If you’re attending networking events you should be doing it so that you’re investing in and nurturing relationships (current and new ones)…so to me, it doesn’t make sense to just attend a networking event to be a wallflower. I promise you, if you are shy and networking is not natural for you, it IS possible to come out of your shell. Now people can’t get me to shut up!
I hope these tips are helpful as you attend upcoming networking events! My challenge to you is to be a leader in your networking group(s) you attend and set the bar high – remember the Golden Rule, and others will follow your lead! It will only help to elevate the entire industry!