Didn’t get enough last time? Here are a dozen more tips to get you ready to make a good impression when you are out meeting people in professional networking environments.
- Nametags are traditionally worn on the right side of the body so that they are most visible during your first handshake. This is a rule of thumb and while you may be coached on this by some networking veterans, don’t sweat this too much.
- The rear-adhesive nametags are notorious for falling off easily. Here’s a handy tip: keep a couple of paper clips in the car. If you affix your tag to a part of your clothing near an edge (lapel, collar, ruffle, etc.) then you can slide the clip on to help it stay in place.
- More experienced networkers have probably moved into having a custom name badge produced, typically with a magnetic clip so that you don’t have to pin through your clothes. Here’s tip: many events feature plastic name badges which have magnetic clips. You can probably keep one from the next event you attend, then create your own custom badge on a printer and just drop it in. Make your name large enough to be seen in a dim room, and include a QR code of your contact information or a link to your social media site of choice.
- There are multiple philosophies on eating and drinking at networking events. Some people say you shouldn’t do it at all, while others say it’s no big deal. My view is that it is a function of how productive you want the meeting to be, and whether you already have an established presence at that organization.
- If this is your first visit to that organization and you don’t know many people, I suggest you eat before you arrive or wait until afterward. Spend your time meeting as many people as possible. You want to walk away with at least a dozen people whose businesses you’ve learned something about, who have learned something about your business, and who have given you permission to contact them on social media. You want to make a great impression on these people; crumbs on your tie will not help.
- If you’ve become a regular at the event and already know most folks, then eating is a different consideration. I suggest getting there early and enjoying your snack, then dive in with networking the rest of the time. If you have two free hands while other people have one or none, then you will have the opportunity to be extremely helpful to other people during the event. Maximize this opportunity to make a great impression.
- There is often alcohol available at after-hours events. You don’t need another lecture on the dumb and/or dangerous things that can happen when you drink too much. Make wise choices.
- Choose your attire with some forethought. People will judge your business capabilities by the way you look, the way you talk, the way you behave, and the overall impression you make as a human being. Your business is not a business card or a contract or a corporate seal. It is not even a name or a logo. At a networking event, your business is you, personally. Your face, your hair, your clothes, your hygiene, and your manners.
- Nobody said it was fair or accurate for your entire business to be judged by those things. I’m just telling you that your personal impression is the first experience that people will have with your brand.
- I keep a container of breath mints in my car, as well as nail clippers, a hairbrush, some tweezers, a lint brush, and skin moisturizer. In some cases, I may even bring my electric shaver with me so that I can clean up before an after-hours event.
- The business impact is both immediate and long-lasting. If you have created an impressive personal and professional image – one with which others would be proud to be associated – then you can charge more for your services. Furthermore, the perceived value of what you do will increase. Here’s a lesson to remember: if the audience perceives your value is higher, then your REAL value to your client is higher. I regularly get paid to do the very same events that others would have to do for free “for the exposure.” This is not by accident.
- Don’t look like a rumpled slob when you go out to network or get in front of people at a leads meeting or other meeting. Clean up. You may not need to wear a suit and tie, but you need to present yourself in a way consistent with the value you propose to deliver.
Food and Beverage
If you engage in professional networking, people will talk about you later. Hopefully they will be talking about the great impression you made and how you have an amazing way of presenting your business. Don’t distract them from that task by giving them negative things to talk about in terms of your personal and professional appearance, your etiquette, or your ability to be heard and understood.