Networking Etiquette – Part 1

Summer’s a popular season for conventions, trade shows, seminars and meet-and-greets. All of these are wonderful opportunities to get to know your industry peers, potential clients – and yes, even competitors. You may be an individual who’s looking for a new job, a professional trying to promote your business or simply building up your Rolodex – but whatever your agenda may be, you need to know the etiquette of networking before you breach the many hotel lounges, convention halls and conference rooms that await you. This week and next week, learn top tips when it comes to mixing work and play:

1. Remain the face of your company and brand. It may be after hours, but you’re still John Smith from Company A even when you’re down at the continental breakfast or waiting for a taxi. When you’re traveling for a business event – either downtown or across the country – you must remain somewhat in character at all times. This is especially important when you’re traveling alone and have to singularly represent your entire business. People will notice your persistent professional demeanor and appreciate that you’re not just putting on a face when you’re inside the event’s walls. However …

2. Putting business first can be a put-off. Many events emphasize the social aspect of networking events and conferences. That’s why there’s usually a cocktail hour or “fun” element to the evening, weekend or – yikes – week. Even in your best suit, you’re supposed to be friendly and relaxed – but don’t worry, everyone knows that everyone is there with an agenda. It’s simply an elephant in the room that doesn’t need to be addressed the minute you’re shaking someone’s hand. Focus on learning names, being pleasant and conveying a memorable sense of your personality. You can always exchange information and be in touch later about the nitty-gritty work details. If they liked your presence and attitude, they will be much more likely to remember you and respond to your e-mail than if you have a straight-down-to-business attitude and state your purpose from the outset. That being said …

3. Adhere to a two-drink maximum. Even if you sense that your colleagues want to party all night with you, they will respect you more if you cut yourself off after a few drinks. It’s important not only for that night but for the next day, too, if you have full account of your faculties and are able to communicate well. This doesn’t mean not to have any fun; but nursing two drinks as you network is a smart idea that can speak highly of your commitment to success. Plus, you’ll be up bright and early to get a head start on the lineup of events scheduled for the next day. Your less-sprightly colleagues will envy your energy as the day goes on.

Check back next Monday for Part 2!

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