Whether you’re an introvert or a people person, you have to be on your best behavior to score important connections during events. Too many drinks or showing up in unprofessional clothes can be the kiss of death for your career. Word travels fast in the business world. You just never know who knows who or who may be in charge of hiring you down the line.
Etiquette is essential to making a good impression. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Here are eight networking tips you should keep in mind as you walk into your next business event.
#1 Dress appropriately
Skip the shorts (yes, you, too, dudes) and opt for a nice pair of dress pants. While you don’t have to dress to the nines for a networking event, make sure you follow business casual rules and always err on the side of caution. Your next boss might be there so dress to impress.
#2 Telling a funny story? Keep it PG.
We all have that awesome story from that one time, at that one startup job. Except it may also include rude humor or even a dig at your old boss. You may be passed over because of it. If you’re unsure the story will go over well, skip it and focus on making your skills shine instead. Talk about that one time a project went well because of your input or how you signed that client after a killer proposal.
#3 Stay off your phone
There’s nothing worse than talking to another attendee and wondering if they are listening to you because they are on their phone, scrolling through Instagram. It’s just plain rude, no matter how you look at it. Don’t miss out on a potential job opportunity because you were busy hashtagging. Save it for after the event.
#4 Don’t interrupt
While you may have a million things to say, wait your turn. Avoid talking over others when participating in a conversation.
#5 Personal space is important
While networking events can be loud, make sure you keep a reasonable distance from the person you’re talking to. Keep your face and hands within your space and avoid touching others while talking, unless you personally know them. Body language means different things to different people and you may give the wrong impression, if you’re not careful.
#6 Keep it under two drinks
A few years ago, I told a friend about a client I met and how excited I was to work with him. Instead of telling me more about his background, she told me she remembered him because of how wasted he was at a networking event a few weeks back. Don’t let that happen to you. You want to be remembered by your skills, not by how drunk you were at a past professional networking event.
#7 Don’t pick anyone’s brain
Approaching someone and immediately saying, “I would love to pick your brain sometime” is a quick way to test their nerves. Instead, approach them with a quick professional intro and ask about a particular area of their expertise. It will show that you took the time to research them prior to the event and you’re focused about your career.
#8 Met someone that may further your career? Follow up within two days
Among all of the cards you collected, you’re excited about the prospect of one. Make sure to follow up within two days, especially if it’s a job opportunity. You’re fresh in your connection’s mind and they will appreciate the enthusiasm. A simple refresher (“It was great to meet you last night at X event”) followed by an action item (“I wanted to follow up about that job opportunity or collaborative project and set a time to meet”) will do. People are busy and a short but effective email will prompt a quick response.