1. Be Polite
Always be polite and respectful of other guests even if you vehemently disapprove of certain comments or other individuals are not being polite. Make sure you follow the rules of social etiquette conversation and remember your manners.
2. Ask Appropriate Questions
You are not at a debate and should steer away from questions that might cause one. You do not want to cause a scene, so ask appropriate questions for the situation at hand that will keep the conversation going but will not cause any tension or anger to flare up.
3. Keep it Short
Understand the nature of social etiquette conversation and keep conversations short and socialize with everyone present. If you have a long, in-depth conversation with certain individuals they might be resentful because they are interested in exchanging pleasantries with everyone in attendance. Remember, social etiquette conversation is pleasant and short.
4. You’re There To Network, So Network
Don’t monopolize conversations. If you know less about the person you’ve just talked to than they know about you, there’s a problem with your networking approach.
5. If You’re Going Alone
Don’t walk from place to place like you have a purpose to be somewhere; don’t bury yourself in your cell phone; and don’t monopolize someone’s time. Stand out in the open, especially where people are passing through. People who are walking by, looking for people to network with, will be much more likely to talk to you, rather than someone who has a back turned talking to a co-worker, or someone who’s walking from place to place with blinders on. In other words, if you look busy with someone, people will hesitate to talk to you.
6. Groups Are Bad For Networking
In big networking events, don’t stand in groups just to be part of a conversation and to avoid looking alone with no one to talk to. There can be 200 people there, yet only 25% are actually engaged in conversations. The rest are huddled around the people who are actually having a conversation. If your back is turned to me and you’re facing a group, clearly not part of the conversation but in with a group, people are not going to talk to you.
7. Sticking With Friends Hinders Networking
If you attend an event with a friend, do not… I repeat, do not talk with them when you are alone. Sure, talk to them, like “These cheese cubes are good, huh?” but leave it at that. If you don’t, people are going to assume you and your friends are strangers networking. Or, if someone does notice you are together, it still may make it awkward for someone to approach, especially if it’s one person trying to approach two or three people.
8. It’s Not All About You
Don’t go on and on, talking about yourself, your services, or your company. The only person you’re going to impress is yourself if you simply talk about yourself. To impress others, ask them genuine questions about themselves or their business. With your questions, you can make small talk, but keep it about them. Of course, allow the person you’re talking with to ask questions of you as well. Don’t monopolize the conversation talking about yourself, or asking questions about the person.
9. Don’t Be “That Guy”
Don’t be the self-appointed conference commentator. Don’t ask so many questions during conference presentations and panel discussions that you take the program off track. It really isn’t all about you.