Networking etiquette: six golden rules

We’re deep into autumn and the business networking whirl is in full swing.  Back in June, I delivered a training session to a group of entrepreneurs on the rules for ‘dressing for networking success’.   We talked about not only how to dress, but how you should behave when networking.

One of the reasons my business is called style&grace is because I believe how you present yourself is equally as important as how you dress.  How you speak, how you treat others and how you carry yourself matter.  Your manners and behaviour should complement and enhance your look, not undermine it.  In other words, it all comes down to good etiquette.

Here are my six golden rules for networking etiquette:

  1. Introduce yourself clearly, and bring people into the conversation
  2. Shake hands firmly – make eye contact and smile as you do so
  3. Keep your right hand free for that firm handshake
  4. If you forget a name – say so ! Don’t be British and embarrassed about it.  Repeating names back works for me (and many politicians)
  5. Don’t pig out or drink too much !
  6. Follow up with those contacts that you’d like to meet again by email, LinkedIn, phone, handwritten note – whatever works for you and is appropriate

And finally, take a genuine interest in other people.  This is demonstrating the best manners of all, and is sadly lacking these days.  You’ll be amazed at what you learn about them and the common ground you may find.

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How to dress for networking

I delivered a training session this week to a group of entrepreneurs on how to dress for networking.  It was a highly interactive session that prompted loads of questions and discussion, and I was struck by how many people struggle with deciding how to present themselves for networking events.

Preparation is everything

First of all (and I’ve said this before) dressing well for an important occasion (whether that’s networking, a job interview or new client meeting) requires preparation.  Putting in the prep will ensure you look your best, and give you the confidence to face any gathering with ease.   Is your suit clean ?  Do your shoes need reheeling?  Are you missing the ‘right’ top or tights ?  We all know that business is stressful enough – let’s take any last-minute clothing stress out of the equation.

Venue, format, grooming

Other points to keep in mind:

  1. Consider the venue, time of day and format of the event.  If you’re going to be standing around at an evening drinks event you may not want to wear your highest heels.  Likewise, you don’t want to be dressed to the nines for a casual coffee-shop environment
  2. Your mantra should be ‘smart, professional, appropriate’.  Always.  Don’t undermine your professional expertise by revealing too much flesh or wearing sportswear (unless that’s your business, of course)
  3. Pay attention your grooming, particularly your hair, teeth and nails.  It’s astonishing how many people neglect these small details

Remember that what you wear speaks volumes about your lifestyle and status, and you certainly want to ensure that it is sending the right messages when you’re dressing for a networking event.  If you’d like further advice, contact me for a free, no-obligation 15 minute consultation.

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