Networking Etiquette

As it is the beginning of the month I have been checking my diary and can see that I will be attending nine networking events this month – that is a lot even by my standards! however I have been invited to some new meetings so am looking forward to going along.

One of the challenges we all face when going along to new meetings is that every event is different, both in terms of format and also in the way that people behave when they are there. Indeed something I often speak about is the “feel” of a Coffee and Connect meeting as I do think it is quite unique – but it is difficult to define to someone who hasn’t visited us before.

So I thought it might be helpful if I outlined what can perhaps be called our “Networking Etiquette” at Coffee and Connect. (I would emphasise that I am not saying this is the only “right” way to do it but this is just how Coffee and Connect works).

  1. First of all if you have never been to a Coffee and Connect meeting before please be assured we are all very friendly and if you go and say hello to people you don’t know you will be greeted with a smile and a genuine welcome.
  2. We have a table for putting out leaflets and business cards and of course if you are chatting to someone and want to swap cards that is great, but we don’t just go round with cards handing them out – we like to get to know each other first.
  3. When it comes to the one minute introduction it is quite straightforward – just say who you are and what you do. I know some groups encourage you to say what you are looking for but we don’t usually do that – but don’t worry, if someone thinks they have a recommendation or useful contact for you they will tell you afterwards.
  4. Testimonials – if you have used someone’s services and want to tell everyone how great they were then please do mention it after they have done their one minute intro. However in a packed room of 35 people we do need to get round everyone in good time so a simple “I used X to organise Y and they were great” does the job perfectly.
  5. Something I do notice about the people that attend Coffee and Connect is that everyone really listens to all the one minute introductions. No one ever chats to their neighbour or starts texting or checking their phone for messages.
  6. After the introductions please do stay and talk to people individually – now is the time to suggest useful contacts, make referrals, give more testimonials, talk to people whose services you might be interested in using etc. Don’t worry about needing to go round “selling” your services – people will find you if they are interested – and if you sit back and observe, the people that everyone wants to talk to about using their products/services are always those who are focussed on giving advice and helping everyone else.
  7. Business Cards – I am sure I hardly need say this but please do not pick up everyone’s business cards and go home and add them to your mailing list. It is far better to have had a small number of meaningful conversations with a few people and have obtained their permission to add them to your list rather than to spam everyone.
  8. After the meeting don’t forget to do any actions that you promised – I always have to write these down – usually on the back of the individual’s business card; and if someone does help you out with a referral or an introduction please remember to say thank you.

But Coffee and Connect is really all about the people that attend – genuine, friendly professionals who are serious about their business but who like doing business with a smile.

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