Sometimes we have bad experiences with networking. Those experiences leave a bad taste in our mouths and we lose out on the value of joining an organization like the Chamber of Commerce.
Maybe you felt pressured to pass out 100 business cards, bring ten leads to every meeting, or give an impromptu speech? Worse, perhaps you were added to an email marketing campaign without your consent. Networking etiquette isn’t just for the Miss Manners column. It’s for professional events, too.
The good news is that Centerville’s chamber is small. Are you new to town or new to business? No problem. We are drawn to new folks and are eager to help you get to know the community because this isn’t a typical chamber. It’s also not a big city chamber, which means you read the word networking here, but what you’ll experience is so much more.
While we’re small, informal, and friendly, that doesn’t mean learning the unspoken rules of politeness isn’t necessary. The better your first impression is, the better your lasting impression will be.
Why Is Networking Etiquette Important?
Networking etiquette is important because it establishes healthy boundaries. Those manners show people that you value them, you hear them, and you respect their time. Proper etiquette communicates that you’re interested in people and not just attending the event to sell your goods or services.
Let’s talk more about how to get the most out of Chamber events without breaking networking etiquette rules.
Conversations are Meant to be Joined By Others
It’s so fun when you meet someone you have a lot in common with. Remember that mixers are inclusive events for light conversation. So if you found commonalities and want to continue the conversation (hooray!), exchange phone numbers and set up a lunch. It’s important to be aware of your body language and keep the conversation circle open.
“The only way to change a professional networking event into a first date is to change your physical location. This can be done by suggesting you excuse yourselves and go over to the bar or by suggesting a follow-up meeting and exchanging contact information.” Miss Manners
Networking is About Giving More than Receiving
It’s common to get busy with our professional development and get lost in the weeds of running our business. So, joining the Chamber of Commerce and attending events during those times allow you to give back to your community. Developing these professional relationships and friendships takes time. It’s better to give than to expect to receive. When you network this way, reaching out when you’re in need won’t be so awkward. Your network will be there when you need them just like you were for others.
“Professional relationships, like any other, require work and attention to thrive.” Enterprisers Project
Mirror The Other Person’s Greeting Style
The COVID pandemic has changed how we interact and greet one another. Some people have gone back to fist-bumping or even waving. Not everyone is comfortable with a handshake anymore. But if you are comfortable with handshaking, make sure your hands are clean. It can be a challenge during mixers with food. This article suggests eating with your left hand so you can shake hands with people (a firm grip with your sanitized hand if you choose).
Prioritize Face Time over Screen Time
When we’re nervous, we tend to behave awkwardly. Maybe we sit at the bar or frequent the snack table. Many of us go to our phones as a habit or because it gives us something to do. But if you’re looking at your screen, people will think you’re busy and not interested in talking. So, that’s sort of self-defeating.
We’ve all had those moments of panic and fear. “What if no one talks to me?” But they will! As the event host, we prioritize hospitality so that you feel welcome. If you need a prompt, do what business owner Deidre Gilmore of TankGirl Marketing does: find the person sitting alone at a networking event and say hi. Maybe that person is new, too.
Are You Ready to Join Our Chamber?
We’d love to talk more specifically about our events, sponsorships, and the advantages of being part of your local Chamber of Commerce. Let’s schedule a call to chat or check out our lists of events. We can’t wait to meet you.