We explain the professional behaviors and expected networking etiquette. Where to meet, when to show up, what to bring, what to say, and how to dress, to name just a few.
We all know the basics, but to establish a baseline, we list the following. Missing on these is a career-limiting move:
- 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 host and buying coffee/drinks
- Do not ask for a job
Demonstrated behavior = future behavior
The person we are networking with can only assume that the behavior demonstrated at this meeting will continue in any and all subsequent meetings. We need to represent if we want them to make an introduction on our behalf.
- Be on time, because if you are late to this meeting, it will be assumed you will be late for the next meeting and late to work if hired. Which you won’t be, tardy pants.
- Show that you can dress professionally. This doesn’t mean a suit and a tie, but it does mean dressing appropriately for the type of position you are interviewing for. Business casual is usually a safe bet unless your meeting with someone in tech (dress it down a notch) or someone in finance, lawyers, etc (maybe dress it up a notch). Again, this is a judgment call depending on the industry and firm. Feel free to do some research too!
- Set the first meeting for 30 minutes and respect others’ time. Limiting the meeting to 30 minutes implies that you are busy and important as well. You can always schedule another meeting if things are clicking and you need more time.
- If you are looking for help or a favor, play host. The person doing us the favor shouldn’t buy drinks, dinner, coffee, etc. You should!
- Do not ask for a job.
We don’t show up for a first date expecting to get married. If we are talking about marriage on a first date, we will scare the other person off. Show genuine interest and learn about the person, their family, and friends (aka, networking!). We need to understand their interests and build a real connection. This is a long-term relationship, not a one-night stand.
Do your due diligence on the person you are meeting with, and do the same for the company they work for. Meeting with someone who hasn’t checked out the company website or your LinkedIn profile is a dead give away that this is going to be a one-way relationship.
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 at every step of the way. Again, make it personal – group email updates are impersonal and will not cut it.
Key Takeaway: Networking is like the first date. Be on your best behavior: open doors, buy the drinks, be respectful of time, and show genuine interest. You never know when the when your network will need help or be able to help.
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