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Networking etiquette December 4, 2009

Posted by jvmullin in 1.

What is networking etiqette?

Should I call it etiquette or protocol or process? It does not much matter what I call it there is a right way and wrong way.

There are a number of us that are unemployed and we are not only looking for ourselves but trying to help others. I am one of these people. Sometimes at a networking meeting you have bad days were we get nor give help and there are good days when we give as well as receive. It is during this time of having an exceptional giving day that we get caught up in the emotions of the moment and forget the protocol. It can make for an awkward moment for all involved.  The giver having been caught up in the emotion of the moment takes the receiver to the the contact person and without any prelude drops the proverbial bomb on the unsuspecting contact. Viola! The awkward moment for all.

Now I can understand the situation and do not lay blame, but I can also see that this could harm the relationship the giver has with both other parties involved. We are creatures of comfort and do not like to be taken out of our comfort zone. We are also creatures that enjoy feeling good about ourselves especially in this depressing time of being unemployed. So it is very easy to get up in the emotions of the moment. Being a forgiving and understanding person I cannot be upset at this type of situation. I am also a person who likes to teach, although that is not my profession, I will afterwards in a private conversation with the giver explain the error. It is basically dealing with professional courtesy.

Lets look at the scenario once again from the right approach.

The giver in conversation with the receiver realizes that at the same meeting is the contact that the receiver needs to speak with. The giver asks the receiver to follow them to find the contact person. When the contact person is located there is a couple of things that could be happening that will dictate what happens next.

If the contact is in conversation, do not interrupt, wait for the conversation to end. Then give the contact a brief discussion as to why you have brought the receiver in tow to meet them. An example; Hi Joe, I have brought Paul with me to meet you, Paul is an engineer who is interested in one of your former companies. I was wondering if you have a few minutes to talk to him. A brief explanation as to how yo know Paul is also helpful. Joe this is Paul, Paul this Joe.

The emotional situation plays out like this, Hey Joe, Paul is looking for contacts at your Company Z  I told him you would help!

From a relationship standpoint this is wrong on so many levels. While some are obvious I will point them out anyway.

The giver has made a number of bad assumptions having been caught up in the emotional moment.

They have taken for granted Joe’s respect and reputation.

They have put Joe on the spot, having taken him off guard and placed him outside his comfort zone.

They assumed that Joe is willing to help a total stranger and greatly risk his reputation with his contacts at Company Z.

NOTE: We have to remember that Joe has put time and equity into building a relationship and reputation with is contact at Company Z. One bad referral can ruin all his efforts and cause damage to the relationsh


The giver has caused damage to the trust and respect Joe has with them.

The giver has put the receiver into an awkward situation now as well. All the same facts stated above also apply to the giver/receiver relationship.

Our networks are valuable to us and we must have trust, respect and have a good relationship with everyone in our network. Network connections can be fragile and easily broken. When damaged, the damage can be hard to repair or be destroyed.

So if you find yourself caught in the emotion, take a deep breath, think about the situation about to unfold and handle it in a proper manner. It will become beneficial to all involved.


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