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Don’t forget your Manners – How business etiquette can make or break the connection

I just got off the phone with someone in an HR role that told me she makes hiring decisions based on your handshake. Admit it, we all do! We form impressions about people the second we meet them. Manners matter – so much more than you think!

You see, in the current business climate, networking is the most effective way of accessing and establishing meaningful connections.

Because there is no shortage of highly qualified and competent people out there, manners can make the difference between a successful and failed opportunity.

When seeking to be effective at networking, you should pay attention to common etiquette practices that can make or break the connection.

Introductory skills

Networking often involves meeting people that you’ve never met before. Always make sure you introduce unfamiliar people to each other when having a conversation. This helps break the ice and make all parties to the conversation more comfortable around each other. In addition, proper introductions make people feel valued and validated, regardless of their position.

In our training surveys, we have found than a staggering 87% of people have to include themselves in a conversation at a networking event. It is so rude to ignore someone standing there, so make sure you pause and include them before continuing your chat.

If you are being introduced to new people, always offer a firm and single handshake, followed by a smile and nod. A good handshake demonstrates confidence, politeness, and approachability.

Pleasantries are important

During and after a networking event, using appropriate pleasantries can go a long way. Always follow any requests with “please”, and you should also say “thank you” after such requests are fulfilled.

After the event, a thank you e-mail is very important, but a handwritten thank you card goes even further towards making you stand out from the rest. If you agreed to catch up, make sure you pick up the phone to arrange the meeting.

Appropriate Mobile phone manners

Advancements in technology and communications have made having a mobile phone a necessity. You should, however, learn how to use it in front of people, especially those who you’re networking with. Avoid texting or responding to emails within the main room of the event. In the case of urgent calls, excuse yourself and go somewhere quiet.

Proper listening skills

While pursuing an opportunity at a networking event, it can be tempting to talk too much as you try to demonstrate your qualifications and market yourself. However, always be prepared to listen actively to the other person.

Networking is about developing relationships, and a conversation is a two-way street. Avoid interrupting the other person, and respond to specific points/perspectives that they may present as well.

In case you missed my recent Talking Lifestyle radio interview with David Koch and Ed Phillips we discussed the importance of etiquette and some tips to make networking work better for you.

Understanding business etiquette at networking events is discussed in deeper detail at our Business Networking Skill Workshop. To learn more about this and gain other networking idea, enrol in one of our courses here.

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