Biz Etiquette 101, Lesson 01

Biz Etiquette: Lesson 01

I couldn’t remember her name for the life of me, and she wasn’t wearing the requisite name badge.

I was at a biz networking event, so the point of being there was to get to know each other and what mission we represented. There was no dodging a conversation … besides she had seen me, smiled in recognition, and with a companion in tow, crossed the room to greet me.

I stuck out my hand and reminded her, “Hi, I’m Bill.”

She shook my hand, nodded, smiled, and without missing a beat introduced me to her companion.

– Leaving me in the dark about her name or what company she represented.

Just in case you missed it, that conversation was a major business faux pas – on multiple levels. Remember, at a networking event … and pretty much every contact you make is networking with a potential business contact … making and maintaining a good impression is Job 1. And Job 2 is building a positive memorable relationship. This interaction completely blew it.

  • First, if you’re trying to make a good impression, it’s not terribly helpful to make the other person uncomfortable. And if someone who “should” remember your name is struggling to find it, and if you don’t help them out, their discomfort escalates the longer the conversation.
  • Second, if you’re trying to build a memorable relationship, leaving a network contact in the dark may actually build a memory, but it isn’t going to be positive.

So, here’s Biz Etiquette Lesson 01: How to Greet Others at a Networking Event (and again, they’re all networking events).

  1. Unless you’re greeting a family member, presume no one knows your name – even if you’re wearing a name badge (they do fall off, get covered up by your sweater or tie, etc.).
  2. SMILE warmly. The point is to make a positive impression.
  3. Extend your hand. It used to be that a man never initiated a handshake with a woman, and this is still a good practice in formal settings, especially if the woman appears to be older than 60 or so. However, in today’s biz climate, it’s generally safer to be as blind to gender as possible – and if you’re at a business networking event it’s expected.
  4. Introduce yourself as you extend your hand. “Hi, I’m Bill.” (Use your own name 😉 ) If the contact has met you a dozen times or more, it appears to be perfectly acceptable to shorten the reminder to just: Smile, Extend Your Hand, “Bill.” (Your name.) Even better, if you remember the contact’s name, “Good morning, Robert. Bill Tenny-Brittian.”

If you’re greeted and the contact introduces themself, but doesn’t call you by name, SUPPLY IT FOR THEM. “Good morning. I’m Bill.” “Good morning, Bill. I’m Robert” –or– “Good morning, Bill. Robert.” Whether they remembered your name or not, you’ve just leveled the playing field … and if you’ve helped them save face, they’re already in your debt – a very good place for them to be at a biz networking function!

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