Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Networking Etiquette: The Dos & Don'ts

networking, networking etiquette

It is important to always be professional and use proper networking etiquette when making connections. Do this by following these networking etiquette tips:
  • Do your homework. Don’t ask questions in a networking situation that you could have easily looked up the answers to on your own. Be able to discuss the things going on in the industry by reading industry newsletters and publications on a regular basis.
  • Don’t act desperate. Desperation can be seen from a mile away and people are turned off by it.  Instead, be positive, show confidence, and smile a genuine smile.
  • Don’t be a user. Don’t try to connect with someone because of only what you hope to get out of the relationship. You never want to ride someone’s coat tails or invite yourself to be a part of something. If you have made a good first impression and you are working at developing relationships, people will want to have you around and will invite you to be a part of what they’re trying to accomplish.
  • Do listen carefully. It’s true that we were given two ears and one mouth because we need to listen more than we talk. Listen to others and show genuine interest in people instead of thinking about what you want to say when it’s your turn to talk. Everyone loves to talk about themselves so ask people questions about their interests and their work.
  • Do respect your contact’s time. If you are at a networking event, don’t take up someone else’s time by talking only to that person and hogging his or her time. Also, if you have scheduled a networking meeting with someone, stick to the agreed upon time frame.
  • Do obtain permission.  Ask your contact if it’s okay that you tell the people he or she has referred you to where you got their name. Also, when contacting someone to whom you’ve been referred, always show that person courtesy by telling that person how you got his or her name. This is not the same thing as name-dropping, which is a no-no.
  • Don’t be pushy. Be sensitive to what a contact is willing to do for you and never push beyond that or expect more.
  • Don’t make people feel like they’re being “networked.” This should be especially true at functions that are not specifically designed as networking events.
For many people who are shy, the thought of networking can be intimidating. However, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with it and the more natural it feels. In fact, networking should be a natural thing. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be strategic in trying to get your name out to others. Some of the following tips will help make the process of strategic networking feel more natural to those who are shy when it comes to connecting with new people:
  • Treat every networking opportunity as a normal “get-to-know-you” conversation while keeping it professional. 
  • Start with the people you already know and feel comfortable with. Invite them to go with you to events that will lend to networking opportunities and ask them to introduce you to the people there that they know.
  • When a friend gives you the name of one of their contacts, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time that you will be contacting them so that person will have a “heads up” and will know why you are contacting him or her.
  • If you are going to make cold calls to industry people, start first by sending them an email or “friending” them on their social or professional networking sites.
  • Do your research on the person and his or her project, company, organization, etc. prior to contacting him or her. This will make the conversation flow more smoothly and will show that you have a genuine interest in the person.
  • Plan some talking points that you want to cover prior to calling the person.
  • Set goals. If you go to an industry event, set a goal to talk to a certain number of new people before you treat yourself to the hors d’oeuvres.
A lot of people object to networking, saying they feel phony in trying to do it and that it feels unnatural.  By putting into practice the guidelines listed above, the process will become second nature to you. You will find it easier to approach others and you will also become more approachable to others.

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