GDPR and Networking Etiquette

GDPR is very much the topic of the moment. Everywhere I go businesses are discussing the practical day-to-day implications of the enhanced Data Protection legislation which comes into effect in May next year and my inbox has been filled with emails giving advice about it. (Sadly, some of these emails I had not given permission for – so no irony there then!)

One issue that GDPR highlights very clearly is that in the context of business networking it will no longer be acceptable to simply collect business cards at networking events and then go back to your office and add these names to your marketing mailing list, as you will not have obtained the individual’s permission.

However, this should not be a problem for us at Coffee and Connect as those of you who have read previous posts from me about Coffee and Connect “Netiquette” will know. My philosophy on this is very simple. It is far better to have proper conversations with a smaller number of people and at the end of your chat ask for their permission to add them to your mailing list rather than spam everyone and have them remember you – for all the wrong reasons

Beside with my sales hat on it is far more productive to do this the proper (and legal) way:

• Successful business networking is all about building long term relationships with other businesses – and these develop through conversations and time spent.

• If you ask permission to add someone to your list (after you have chatted nicely to them) – no one will say no. They will be impressed by your professionalism and appreciative that you asked.

• Then when they receive your marketing email they will remember who you are – because you had a conversation – and will be much more likely to open it and read it – which is ultimately what you want.

Of course, this does all take longer than just gathering up all the business cards from a table and disappearing back to your office to load them onto your database without properly speaking to anyone, but building a business that is successful over time means taking a long term view and doing things properly – and fundamentally it is just Good Manners.

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