As the founder of From the Inside Out School of Etiquette, it is customary for me to talk to a substantial number of people. I certify consultants, I teach children, teenagers, and adults about proper deportment, civility, and etiquette overall, I run a non-profit organization, I interact and work closely with government officials to enhance the community, and I communicate with folks from various walks of life!
It is such a fulfilling journey to travel and I truly love it!
Now, in reference to meeting and socializing with people, do you know there is something called Networking Etiquette? Yes, it exists! There are also a few preparations for this. I will discuss it in this blog. Take note that Networking Etiquette is especially observed in business settings but can also be done in certain situations that present the opportunity to network.
Handing out Business Cards
As a founder, a businesswoman, and a woman who has many acquaintances, I always carry my business card. You never know who you will interact with! The person next in line in the grocery store might very well be my next best connection or student. I advise you to have several business cards at all times when leaving your home or office. It is always best to be prepared and it makes you appear professional. We are in a time when digital cards are often used. I am old school and believe a professional must always have a hard copy business card even if they have a digital card. Keep in mind, there are some professionals who are not fond or familiar with digital cards. Many still prefer the hard copy business card.
However, I do not advise you proactively give your business card unless warranted, especially while dining, as germs may be transferred. We are still in a pandemic and we must be careful not to pass the virus with what we are holding or touching. Even though one may not experience symptoms, it does not mean all is well.
Elevator Pitch Preparedness
When you plan to attend a networking event or any event where other professionals or business owners will attend, it is always good to be ready with your elevator pitch-not on paper. It must be memorized or prepared simply because you are knowledgeable about your products and services.
An elevator pitch is 30-60 second. It is a persuasive speech that you would present to an audience to spark interest in your business and provide information for them to take action-contact you.
You more than likely will not be able to speak with everyone at any given event, so it is important to be prepared when someone gives you the opportunity to pitch your business, which should contain:
- - Proper introduction (I’m or I am - Not my name is…)
- - Name of company, title
- - Briefly explain the nature of your business
- - Demographics (target audience)
- - Pain point (societal problem)
- - Solution (your business)
- - Call the Action
- - Thank you for your time
All in under a minute and with composure! I know it can be nerve-wracking trying to fit all that you want to say in a minute, but that’s how it is in events and conferences. That is why we should always be prepared.
Now, there will be times, more than likely, when someone at any given professional event or networking event, may ask you one-on-one what you do for a living. It is recommended you have something called a one-liner to quickly fill them in and not bore them with the one minute elevator pitch that is most fit for an audience.
A one-liner would sound something like this:
I provide______(what services do you provide)________________, for____(targeted demographic)_________to allow them to____ (solution to their pain point)________________.
A simple, quick, and direct statement that will cover who, what, and the nature of your business. That opens the door for questions and dialogue. Afterward, you may hand them your business card and carry on. This protocol is appropriate also in small groups. Always ask for their business card as well to show that it is not just about you-you are interested in their business as well.
When you attend an event or conference, it is a given to dress professionally.
Ladies, wear appropriate length dresses and skirts and be sure if you’re wearing pants, they are slacks, no denim, and no tights please! Refrain from showing your cleavage and refrain from wearing see-through clothes. If you like, add a blazer to accentuate your outfit. Please try to wear closed-toe shoes. I believe a nice pair of peep-toe shoes are acceptable as well.
For gentlemen, it is always good to own a black, navy blue, gray, or even brown suit. It is important to be conservative in this manner. You can always accentuate your suit with a nice white or very light color shirt, your tie, and or your pocket square if that’s your thing. Make sure your dress shoes are not scuffed and match your belt. These are two things people tend to recognize when interacting with a professional man. I know I always notice if the belt and shoes match and if his belt buckle is centered. These are very telling!
Now those are just a few tips in Networking Etiquette. I hope you embrace them and apply them to your everyday professional interactions.
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