Whether you are seeking a new career or starting your own business, proper networking etiquette can help to get you further along in your quest.

Here are some do’s and don’ts of networking, so that you can avoid common mistakes.

Before arrival:
  • Know your audience. Create a list of people that you want to meet, and why.
  • Be prepared with a large amount of business cards. While you don’t want to give your business cards to everyone, be sure that you never run out.
  • Have a pre-planned follow up strategy. If you’re smart, then you’ll have your follow up strategy planned before you network:
    • Create 1 or 2 template thank you emails. When you get home it will be much easier to send a thank you email, and to follow up with a direct call to action.
    • Enter all of your information into your CMS no later than 24-48 hours after the event. The last thing you want to do is forget who you’ve spoken with. If there was something noteworthy from your conversation (sporting event, business needs, etc), be sure to note that as well. 
  • Determine the best attire for the event. Business breakfasts are very different from formal galas.
Upon arrival:
  • Make an entrance. Proper attire, posture, and the air of confidence will always cause you to stick out of the crowd.
  • Be prepared with your elevator pitch (30 seconds or less).
  • Be sure to greet the event hosts and organizers and acknowledge their hard work. A thank you can go a long way.
  • Keep each conversation within 5-10 minutes.
  • Learn how to weed out people that you don’t want to spend your time on. You can typically determined if the connection is good or not, within the first 2-3 minutes. If it’s not a good connection, you can simply thank them for their time, and move on. There is no need to exchange business cards or promise a follow up. 
  • If you’re at an event that serves food, try to keep your right hand free, so that you’re able to shake hands easily. 
  • Keep conversations with people you know personally at a minimum. Most events should be reserved for new connections.
  • Be too eager. True professionals can always detect desperation. Be confident in what you’re offering.
  • Be longwinded. The worst thing that you can do it talk yourself right out of a deal/opportunity.
  • Sell yourself short. If you’re challenged about your product offering during the conversation, be prepared to talk about how your product(s) have helped other clients, testimonials and market additional services that you provide.
  • Discuss politics or anything controversial. Your conversations should be high-level and professional.

There are many ways to network. Your networking style should reflect your personality. These tips may be a helpful start. Let us know if you have any other great networking tips!