Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Networking Etiquette

It happens to all of us at one time or another at networking events. It happened twice during the same event last week. It happened again last night. I was engaged in an interesting conversation with someone and mid-sentence, another person came into our conversation by shoving a business card into our hands, and without skipping a beat, started spewing their all-about-me-and-my-business schpeil. No hello, no introduction, no preamble and not even an "excuse me".

Now let me ask you . . . if you barge into a conversation in progress, do you think that your message is going to be well received? All I can see are lips moving, but the words come out as blah, blah, blah. My frustration at being interrupted prevents me from focusing on the message they are trying to deliver.

We’ve all heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”. And at a networking event, a memorable first impression is even more important when you are meeting potential customers and business associates.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome when walking into a room with a group of relative strangers, is the daunting task of just going up to someone and start a conversation. If you see someone you want to speak to and they are engaged in conversation, politely join their circle and try to assimilate into their discussion. At the appropriate moment you will be able to introduce yourself to them and explain what you do. By being less intrusive, they will be more receptive to your message.

When you work the room faster than the speed of light, no one remembers you or your message. What they will remember will not be so good. When you take the time to begin a relationship with that new person at the event, you can determine if they are a potential client or referral partner and whether or not your product or service is a fit. Or, at the very least, you may just make a new friend.