Networking is extremely important. Unfortunately, many people can come across too strong, too eager, and/or overbearing when professionally connecting with others. Without following some basic networking etiquette guidelines, you can be left with weak connections and a small pool of people for references and professional development support. Many of the following tips might seem like common sense but they are broken often enough that it warrants putting into writing.
Don’t talk about yourself constantly. Promoting yourself may be your goal, but people love to talk about themselves. Ask lots of questions and let the other person talk - you’ll make a better impression and won’t seem self-centered.
Be a real person, not a robot. Talking to every person at an entire event may seem like the best plan for networking, but quickly “selling” yourself and the moving on to the next poor soul isn’t going to strengthen your network. You need to be genuine and build relationships. It takes time but it’s worth it.
Your business card isn’t necessarily required. Don’t thrust your card at every person you meet within the first 60 seconds of being introduced. It’s tacky and is a really obvious sign that you want something from them. If the conversation goes well and you feel like both of you are interested in following up at another time, ask permission to provide your new friend with your card.
Balance your requests with your offerings. The great thing about networking is that you have connections in positions that can help you, but you need to make sure you help as well. Don’t be that person that is always asking for help but never offering. You’ll find your network reach shrinking pretty quickly.
Be professional. Be professional. Did I say that twice? Foul language, dirty jokes, and casual-to-the-point-it’s-almost-rude manners should be left in your personal circles. You never know how you might offend someone and take a hit to your reputation. Word can travel fast!
If you’d like to dive deeper into this topic, here are a few helpful articles to get you started:
Proper Networking Etiquette from Modern Manners Guy
12 Rules of Highly Effective Networkers from Inc.
10 Signs You Are Doing Networking All Wrong from Goins, Writer
What would you add to the list? We’d love to hear from you.