By Kimberly Law, AICI CIP
Now that the holiday season is over, it’s back to work! If the thought of meeting new people at a business event sends a chill up your spine, you’re not alone. For many of us networking is something we dread. Unfortunately, these days, it’s not what you know. It’s who you know or who knows you, that really counts for business success. And even though tradeshows and business mixers can be intimidating for anyone, they are also the perfect opportunity to network and build business relationships. To feel more at ease at your next event, prepare ahead of time, with full stomach, the right attitude and the right business tools.
The buffet line-up can be a great place to strike up a conversation. Spending all your time there will not make the best impression.
Food is best saved for thought, not conversation. Juggling food and drink can present challenges when meeting people, shaking hands or while trying to carry on a conversation.
When holding a drink, use your left hand. This will keep your right hand dry and available for shaking hands with others.
Barbeques and ball games are in a league of their own and may warrant drinking out of cans and bottles. However for most events glasses over bottles are the preferred choice.
Don’t forget your networking tools! Bring business cards, brochures or profiles and wear a nametag.
Name tags should be worn in line of vision. This means on the right, close to the shoulder. When you extend your right arm to shake hands, the eye is automatically drawn to that area.
Feeling lonely? Approach people standing on their own, groups of three or larger groups. When approaching a group of two you may be interrupting a private conversation and it could become awkward or uncomfortable.
If you are sitting when someone approaches you, show respect and interest by standing when greeting them and shake their hand.
To meet and greet professionally; make eye contact, smile, shake hands and say hello. Introduce yourself with your first and last name and, if appropriate, state your relationship to the host.
Don’t use nick-names. Listen to how people introduce themselves and follow their lead. Ask permission before shortening a name or trying out a nickname, just in case it’s not appreciated. Nick-names such as sweetie and honey are never appropriate in a business setting.
Avoid taboo topics like politics, religion, sex or money. In other words, stay away from anything personal or controversial.
Ease up on the sales pressure. Instead show interest with questions, small talk and light conversation. Current events make great conversation when kept non-controversial.
Give and receive business cards respectfully. When a business card is offered to you, hold it respectfully and look at it before putting it away. When offering your business card, present it so it can be read, with the printing facing the person receiving the card. Always wait to be asked, before presenting your business card.
With a little effort and self control, business events can be a fast, fun way to build your business network.
Kimberly Law, AICI CIP, owner of Personal Impact Image Management is a Certified Image Consultant, specializing in helping clients make the best impression possible, including personal appearance and etiquette. Sign up for Image Matters & receive FREE reports. Or learn more about business etiquette in our special report ‘Minding Your Manners, Everyday Matters’.