How many times have you entered a room where you didn’t know anyone or stood in the corner waiting for someone to approach while you continually check your phone? Or, in your attempts to conquer your fear, you leap right into a conversation with a group of people, nervously chattering and rambling on (and on!) about what you do and how everyone in the group should work with you. Or, maybe you breeze through the room with confidence and interest in others, handing out and receiving business cards with no follow up to ever take place.
It’s no wonder networking has started to take on the artificial feel of fake and shallow. It’s because the majority of people have no idea how to network! They know they “should” network and maybe they even want to and enjoy it, but have no idea how.
As Kevin Daum points out, decades ago there used to be etiquette classes for networking. Where did that go?! People simply don’t know how to genuinely connect with one another in a way that is professional, courteous and mutually beneficial (unless they have attended Dale Carnegie courses, of course). Daum’s article on etiquette rules is a great resource for getting better results at networking – and leaving a better impression.
All 12 of Daum’s rules are insightful – trust us, these are not the types of rules made to be broken – but we have two personal favorites: Look people in the eye and smile (#10); and, Ask if you don’t know (#11).
Looking someone in the eye can be a challenge, but it shows interest, as well as confidence and focus. Daum admits to struggling with this rule and yet notes, “I find it changes the entire emotional dynamic in a positive way.” Smiling is one of Dale Carnegie’s secrets to success, because it allows you to build rapport, earn trust and enhance relationships – three important aspects of strong business building. Networking is really about creating a connection with another person. Think about it: would you approach and build a relationship with someone who never had a smile on their face? It makes someone approachable and even memorable. In a room full of people networking, those are valuable traits to exude.
We like rule #11 for the simple fact that we know you can avoid that awkwardness completely. But before we go into that, we want to point out that if you do forget a name, we agree with Daum that it is better to ask than forget and appear to be insincere in your networking efforts. Forgetting a name can seem like you don’t care or that you view the other person as unimportant – two ways to guarantee someone having a negative reaction or response to your attempts at connecting. In fact, another Dale Carnegie principle is to “remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” If you struggle with this, let us know – we have a course designed just for this concept on how to never forget a name.
Tell us – have you taken a Dale Carnegie course? If so, what are some of the tips and trainings you have learned that have made you a better networker?
Kevin Daum’s 12 Networking Etiquette Rules can be found here: http://www.businessinsider.com/networking-etiquette-rules-you-must-follow-2014-11