Ask Matt: Got any tips for a nervous networker?
By Matt Krumrie
Dear Matt: I started attending networking events but they make me nervous. Do you have any professional networking and etiquette tips you can share?
Matt says: Attending networking events is an efficient way to meet lots of people in a short amount of time, says Marni Hockenberg, principal of Hockenberg Search (hockenbergsearch.com), a boutique retained executive search firm. “You can make many great first impressions if you are professional in your appearance, conversation and manners,” says Hockenberg.
That’s why in addition to a fresh haircut and nice suit, the most appropriate thing you should wear is a smile. “Nothing says ‘I’m approachable and probably someone that you’d like to know’ more than a smile,” says Hockenberg.
Set goals before the event, says Laura Barclay, an international business etiquette expert (civilitycentre.com) who teaches quarterly etiquette classes in the Twin Cities. Many people simply show up without a plan other than to distribute business cards to as many people as possible. Aim to engage with at least three or four people. “The point of networking is to have meaningful interactions, which is learning about the other person as well as sharing a bit about you,” says Barclay.
Here are some additional tips from both Hockenberg and Barclay.