A few weeks ago I had the privilege of co-presenting with Karen Scarfo Thomas, a certified etiquette coach at the 3rd annual Total Woman Conference for Girls and Young Woman (a production of Princess Bola Adelani, Royal Proclamations). You better believe that I was on my best behavior, standing side-by-side with a certified etiquette coach!
Your civility may influence your career mobility
Etiquette may seem like an old-fashioned concept, but it remains very important and relevant in today’s business world. We’ve all heard about people who’ve been fired from their jobs due to poor judgment and misconduct (online and offline). Hiring and promotion decisions often factor in business etiquette and “leadership presence.”
Whether you realize it or not, people are watching how you treat others and how you conduct yourself. They observe everything about you, including your table manners, posture, personal appearance, reactions, etc. They are making assessments about your readiness for bigger and better things.
Your next promotion or job offer may depend upon your business etiquette and netiquette.
The five S’s of networking
Karen Scarfo Thomas has created a simple yet powerful way to remember what to do in networking to make a good impression. She called it the five S’s.
- Standing is important because it gives you more energy and greater mobility. If you remain seated, you will be stuck with the people at your immediate table. It becomes more difficult to mix and mingle. As a result, you meet fewer people. Standing takes courage. I strongly encourage you to do it, if you are physically able.
- Smiling is a very positive networking behavior and it’s easy to do. Put on your happy face when you attend networking functions. This sends positive energy and will attract people to you. Very few people feel good approaching a grumpy looking person.
- Seeing refers to the power of eye contact. Look people in the eyes when you network with them. Give them your full and undivided attention. Resist the urge to look at your mobile device or to scan the room for better prospects. Successful leaders and networkers understand the value of making meaningful eye contact with others, even if it is just for a brief period of time. It makes other people feel important and it will give you more energy.
- Saying refers to verbal communication; that is, sharing your name and a little bit about yourself. This could be the time to give your elevator pitch, but remember not to dominate the conversation with your story. Try asking more interesting questions (other than “what do you do for a living?”) and see how many commonalities you have with the person you are networking with.
- Shaking refers to your handshake. Take the lead in initiating this welcoming gesture whenever you network. Practice giving and receiving professional handshakes. Here’s my formula for a positive handshake: complete (web to web), equal (straight up and down), receptive (not too hard, not too soft, just right). Make eye contact, introduce yourself, repeat their name, 3-5 pumps of the hand and then let go. Be careful not to hug, touch or assume too much control of their body in the hand shake process, unless you have permission from them and a very good relationship.
What else do you need to know about netiquette?
Question 1: What are the most common problems in networking?
- Karen: Not being prepared. Before you enter a networking event, evaluate the following: 1) Why am I here? 2) What do I want to gain from this experience? 3) A I prepared? By asking yourself these questions and answering them honestly, you will avoid any networking faux pas!!
Question 2: What do you mean by Netiquette?
- Karen: Netiquette is the proper decorum used to network yourself or your business. It is important because you only get one chance at making a great 1st impression. Make that impression a lasting one by acting appropriately and confidently. Too often nerves get in the way of this endeavor. Take a deep breathe, compose your self and arrive ready to network.
Question 3: What are your pet peeves when it comes to networking?
- Karen: Pet peeves of mine include losing sight of why you are networking and what your goals are. Ask yourself the three questions from question # 1 and you will do great.
Question 4: Why is business networking important?
- Karen: Networking is so very important on many levels. How you act and present yourself in this important social setting can make or break your business. All eyes are on you – this is your time to shine. Poise, confidence and your excellent social graces will carry you through.
Question 5: What is the proper protocol for exchanging business cards?
- Karen: Business card etiquette includes having your business cards ready at all times Make sure they are clean, crisp and free of stains!! (not something you just pulled from your pocket full of lint!!) Only present the card if asked. It is not proper to offer one unless asked for it. Hand the business card face up to the receiver so they can read it easily. If the person does not ask for your card- ask for theirs – 9 times out of 10 they will ask for yours in return! Once the card is in your hand always take a moment to read it. Make a comment on the card (mini conversation). Thank the person for their time and card.
Question 6: Why are table manners important in business and networking?
- Karen: Networking is most often done over a food and drink event. Mind your manners and be aware of social graces. Remember – social savvy is no longer a luxury…it’s a necessity!
Is netiquette really that important?
Yes! Your business networking etiquette and civility play an important role in the first impressions that you make and the reputation that you maintain. While it’s good to be comfortable with yourself when you network, I want you to always bring your best self to the networking table. Often it’s the little things that get noticed: how you drink from a cup, if you speak with your mouth full, if you know how to use a knife and fork properly. All of these social skills and social graces communicate a great deal about your leadership presence and whether you are ready for the next step in your career and business.
Your Networking Goal for the Week
Take a moment this week to assess your manners and those of others that you work with, live with and network with. What turns you on? What turns you off? Identify someone in your network whom you admire for their social graces and etiquette. Have a conversation with them about the topic of etiquette and its relevance in today’s world. Make the effort to improve your etiquette in one or two meaningful ways. Watch how these changes affect other people. Watch how they affect your relationships, self-respect and opportunities.
If you need more help with your social graces or help in moving to the next level of business and networking sophistication, contact Karen Scarfo Thomas at www.ctetiquette.com or call her at (860) 387-1282.