Networking Etiquette, it matters
What is networking etiquette? Networking etiquette is what separates the gentleman from the boys, the ladies from the girls and will ultimately strengthen, build, and most importantly protect your network. One of the most valuable assets you have is your network of trusted advisors, and in my experience, most candidates take their network and their connections for granted. Like anything, there is a nuance to building personal connections. Being the sensitive little bitch that I am, I have an etiquette radar that tells me within the first 3 minutes how much help I going to offer. Are they going to get a peck on the cheek at the end of the first date, or am I ready to open the kimono? How far I go is dependent on the networking etiquette that is extended to me.
Yes, I have hired candidates from job boards, but I pay more attention to candidates that come through personal introductions. If you can hear about a job opening before it is posted or a friend makes a personal introduction to the hiring manager then this is a no-brainer. This is the equivalent of the hot girl introduction when dating. I get much more eyeball time when I am introduced via a hot girl vs. one of my guy friends who has model good looks. The intro is still mine to mess up, but the hot girl / professional network introduction always goes the farthest.
We all know the basics, but to establish a baseline, I list the following.
- Be on time
- Dress appropriately for the meeting
- Be responsible for the length of the meeting
- If you are looking for help, you are playing the host and buying drinks
- Do not ask for a job
This is networking 101, and in my mind, the absolute minimum. If you not going to respect an initial meeting with these courtesies than there is only one assumption that someone who values their network like me is going to make. I can only assume that introductions I make will be extended the same lack of courtesy that was extended on our initial meeting. I don’t want to endorse a candidate if I run the risk of them embarrassing me with their cave man ways.
So onto HRNasty’s networking etiquette and a mentality that will change the tide. When in doubt, just treat your network like you would if you were on a first date with someone you are interested in a long-term relationship with. This isn’t the time for a one-nighter (or shorter) tactics.
Do your due diligence on the connection you are meeting with and their company. Meeting with someone who hasn’t read a website or LinkedIn profile is a dead give away that this is going to be a one-way relationship.
If you arrive 10 minutes early, you may find your colleague waiting and gain an extra 10 minutes out of your meeting. There is nothing worse than having a busy schedule and then finding yourself waiting for the “somebody” you are trying to help. Each minute waiting alone in a restaurant is a dog minute (7 minutes). I got’s peeps to see and places to be biatches! Don’t assume you can take an extra 10 minutes if you showed up 10 minutes late.
If you are going to be late, give your guest a heads up. In this day and age with text, phone, Twitter, and email, there is no reason anyone that is offering help should be wondering if you are going to show up or not.
Wait for your guest before you order food or drink
One of my pet peeves is making it to a meeting on time and the person that asked me to meet is already sitting down with a cup of coffee and halfway through their Apple Fritter with crumbs on their chin. I am left to introduce myself, put down my stuff, get into line by myself and order my coffee on my own. We could have been getting the chitchat out-of-the-way and then transitioned into getting down to business by the time we sat down. If you arrive at a meeting early, text the advisor you are expecting to meet and ask them what you can order on their behalf. When your guest does arrive, stand up and shake hands. You don’t want to appear so hungry that you need to keep stuffing your face with Fritter.
Offer to help the person you are reaching out to
How can you help someone who is more connected than you or more senior than you? You will never know if you never ask. Too many candidates take the term “networking” to mean that they get to enter this relationship and bring nothing of value.
Do not take your network for granted
The people you already have a relationship with are the people you want to treat like VIP’s. You do not want to take anyone for granted, but you do not want to treat the people closest to you with the least concern. Wit a strong relationship, it is easy to assume that more liberties can be taken. If you have a strong relationship with someone, don’t assume anything! Showing up late, showing up with the assumption that they are going to do most of the work, or canceling at the last-minute is a death-blow. Treat your network like the hot girl or cute dude you have the crush for.
Do not put a resume, or a business agreement on the table unless it is requested
I don’t know of too many situations where a resume or an agreement should be presented in the first 30 minutes. I don’t care how well things are going. Putting either of these items on the table seems dis-ingenious. Bring them and have them ready. If you are asked for a resume or an agreement that is a different matter, but these can be sent via email after the meeting. If you are not able to communicate what is listed on your resume, then you shouldn’t be at the table.
I may be old school, but I do not want to get a deal done on the first date. My goal is to find out how I can work with this new connection and prove to this new connection that I am someone they should want to work with. I would be dubious of any job offered within the first 30 minutes or anyone willing to sign an agreement in the same time frame.
Keep your network updated
Not updating your connections that opened new doors for you is a complete lack of networking etiquette. If you are making progress in a job search because your connection made an introduction, make sure you keep them updated on the progress and thank them every step of the way. Group email updates don’t cut it. There is nothing worse than spending time with someone, opening doors and then hearing they got the job via the grapevine. When I make an introduction and don’t hear an update, I just feel cheap, used, and taken for granted. Don’t get me wrong, there is a place for cheap and used, but it is usually after 5 PM when we let our hair down. We are discussing your professional network here.
Networking isn’t an art. Networking isn’t just about you. Networking etiquette is just common courtesy and taking the other person into consideration first. Stick with these simple rules and you will grow and strengthen your network. When it doubt, treat your network like your first high school crush.
Here is a link to a prior post on how to network with a recruiter.
See you at the after party,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.
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