TEXAS // ETIQUETTE
Building new and long-term business relationships By: [SHARON SCHWEITZER]
Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a global etiquette consultant and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide LLC. For more information, visit www. austinprotocol.com.
list of RSVPs or the guest list. If you can, target and research three people ahead of time – it’s this (not looking up old beaus) that tools like LinkedIn are made for. If that is not possible, arrive early and preview the display of pre-printed nametags. Most companies consider it a huge success if executives and employees connect with three people per event. Be sure to wear your nametag on the right shoulder to make connecting easier.
INTRODUCTIONS 101: Introductions include four basic steps: Stand up, look the person in the eye and smile, have a firm, web-to-web grip, say your first and last name and repeat their name. Proper etiquette tells us we should speak to the person who is most important first: “Ms. Client, may I introduce our senior vice president, Karen Smith.” If asked about your business, have a very brief 30-second overview prepared to explain what you do professionally. Nobody wants your memoir – if they do, they can look you up after the fact.
IN A RECENT ISSUE,
we explored networking etiquette. And then this happened: More than a hundred attorneys were mingling and laughing at a cocktail party in a luxury hotel. Suddenly, two administrators from the underwriting association approached an attorney to question him about a billing procedure and expense. The attorney responded by saying, “This is the first I have heard of this. If you call my office, we can talk. I am not going to discuss it at a cocktail party.” And right after that, I heard about this one: More than a thousand club members completed an anonymous survey about club service. Afterward, at a member event, the club manager approached one of the club’s CEO members to ask him about his negative comments on the survey. The CEO advised the club manager that not only was the survey anonymous, but the party was an inappropriate place for the discussion to occur. Both men were caught off guard, and thankfully, they were professionals who knew not to cause a scene. But they should not have been put in an
NSIDE TEXAS BUSINESS / SEPTEMBER.OCTOBER 2013
uncomfortable position from the start. Clearly, my networking etiquette column is in need of a second part. So what are the boundaries for appropriate topics of conversation at networking events and cocktail parties? Here are my top eight:
BE SELECTIVE: In the last column, I encouraged you to invest the time to ponder which organizations fit with your personal brand. In social season and the holidays, invitations snowball in from all directions. Once again, be sure to think before you RSVP – and be selective.
PRE-EVENT PREPARATION: Before an event, preview the guest list by reviewing the online
EXTEND YOUR HAND FIRST: Remember, the person who extends their hand first is the winner! Ladies should “lean in” and extend their hand for handshaking to the gentlemen first to provide a comfort level with the interaction for both parties.
THE 80/20 RULE: Want to be a good conversationalist? Stop talking so much! Focus on and actively listen to others 80 percent of the time. Respond and speak 20 percent of the time. Part of that 20 percent should be asking questions about your counterpart’s business and industry with genuine interest. Avoid name-dropping, which doesn’t fool anyone – it is simply another form of bragging.
CONVERSATIONS: When someone else joins your conversation, make introductions, welcome the person and ask a question to engage them in your group. Approach people standing alone or in groups of three people or more. Avoid approaching two people, as you may interrupt a private conversation, which rarely ends well. Avoid inappropriate topics, dirty laundry, negative jabs, gossip, shoptalk, financial questions and controver-
BUSINESSPEOPLE SHAKING HANDS IMAGE MONKEY BUSINESS IMAGES/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM, HEAD SHOT BY KOREY HOWELL PHOTOGRAPHY
NETWORKING ETIQUETTE, PART II