Networking Now: Rules of Etiquette You Don't Want to Break

Networking Etiquette

This is the fourth in a series of weekly blog posts on networking for accounting and finance professionals.

In previous posts, we’ve covered what makes networking so valuable and how to start a conversation right. Now we're sharing five golden rules of networking etiquette to help you avoid the most common mistakes — so you can leave every event with a pocket full of business cards to help your career in accounting and finance.  

1. Listen more than you talk.

Networking may seem like the ideal place to spout your well-rehearsed sales pitch, but talk only about yourself and you’ll quickly run out of people willing to listen.

Approach networking with the aim of building relationships that are helpful to all. Brush up on your soft skills, pay attention to others and ask questions. When appropriate, offer solutions and make introductions, even if you don’t personally stand to benefit. Add value to the group by helping others more than you ask for favors.

2. Mind your mobile manners.

It’s acceptable to use a smartphone to put a date in your calendar, take contact details or make a note of useful information. It isn’t appropriate, however, to answer calls, check texts or start reading emails. Keep it on silent.

3. Snack wisely.

It’s common to see drinks and finger food at networking events, so beware of the potential pitfalls. Take modest amounts, or you’ll earn a reputation as someone who only turns up for free meals. You’ll be shaking a lot of hands, so keep one hand readily available, even if that means choosing between carrying a glass or a plate. Avoid handling messy food if possible, or at least be prepared to wipe your fingers on a napkin before shaking hands.

Networking Etiquette4. Mix it up.

As you become a networking regular, you’ll become familiar with some recurring faces. Avoid the temptation to talk only to the people you already know. Catching up is fine, but for lengthier discussions, organize a separate meeting.

Dedicate time to speaking with contacts you don't yet know, and make an effort to welcome new faces to the group. This will bolster your contacts faster and show others that you’re friendly and approachable.

5. Keep your promises.

After the event, you’ll soon fall out of favor if you fail to deliver on what you promised your contacts. Never fail to make the follow-up calls, social media connections and meeting arrangements that you said you would. Your credibility is at stake, and it’s difficult to earn back if it takes a hit. If you’re not sure you can fulfill a task, vow only to try. And don’t make any promises that involve third parties without seeking their permission first.

From sticky fingers to broken promises, from talking too much to talking on the phone, there’s a long list of ways you can offend at business gatherings. But if you use a little common sense and treat others how you’d like to be treated, your networking etiquette is sure to shine through. 

Learn More

To find out more about networking, read the rest of the posts in the series: