Summary

  • In today's competitive job market, companies want to hire faces they know and people they trust
  • If you're looking to discover new opportunities and growth, it's time to get networking
  • Make a stellar first impression with these dos and don'ts of business networking

In today’s competitive job market, sending out dozens of resumes and crossing your fingers just won’t cut it. Companies want to hire faces they know and people they trust. If you’re hoping to rise in the ranks at your company, discover new opportunities, or simply get to know other professionals in your industry, you’re going to need to roll up your sleeves and get networking. 

But who do you talk to, and how do you get started? If you’re feeling a bit lost, we’re here to provide basic business networking etiquette rules to show you the way. We’ll touch on how to hold a conversation, how to follow up, and how to sprinkle in icebreaker questions that’ll work every time. 

With these dos and don’ts of business networking etiquette, you won’t have to worry about making a great first impression. Just do your best without doing the most!

The Dos 

Even seasoned professionals worry about networking the right way, whether participating in online, live, or hybrid events. Although there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, there are some basic habits that will get you started on the right foot. 

Dress the Part 

According to a series of experiments conducted by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov, it takes the average person a mere tenth of a second to form a first impression. So make your first impression count by taking time to look the part. Check the invite for dress code specifics, and when in doubt, err on the side of formality. Avoid light colors that stain easily or fabrics that wrinkle. Put your best foot forward in clothes that make you feel confident so wardrobe malfunctions can be the least of your worries. 

Initiate Conversation

We’ve all stood in circles at mixer events in which conversation is stale and guests meander to the buffet spread just to get a break. But if you learn how to hold a conversation using icebreaker questions, you can draw people in and keep the group engaged. Get people talking about hobbies and interests so the conversation starts to flow. Then move to topics that encourage a deep connection, such as family life, previous jobs, and future professional goals. Resist the urge to fade into the background and hope that someone else will take the lead. Better yet, before you enter the event, make it a goal that you’ll ask each person you talk to a specific number of questions.

Exchange Contact Information

Make sure you know exactly who you talked to and how to keep in touch. Exchange LinkedIn information, email addresses, or business cards. If you’re in the creative field, maybe you exchange portfolio or website details too. Just as long as you keep the pen, soggy napkin, and chicken-scratch handwriting behind. With Mixtroz, you can request contact information from another guest to make sharing contact information easier than ever. The receiving guest can then decide whether or not to share their details. 

Rekindle Old Relationships

Saying good riddance to a job you hate sounds like a good idea until you need professional references. When we are moving ahead to the next big thing, we often forget that existing professional relationships are one of the strongest assets we have. After all, you never know where your next career move will take you. So reach out to former colleagues, managers, and mentors as you’re plotting your next move. Catch up over coffee or drinks and chat about life before diving into professional goals. You never know what job opportunities may be one coffee date away. 

The Don'ts 

Sometimes, we get so caught up in what we hope to gain from a networking connection that we forget to give. Networking is really about authentic, human-to-human connection. 

Never Start with an Ask

When you reach out to a professional connection, don’t expect an immediate referral or job offer. Instead, keep the conversation light. Treat your meetup like an informal interview—a chance to get to know each other on a professional level. Learn what your contact likes and doesn't like about their current role, how they view the industry, and where they see the most growth. Ask for professional advice with the intention of keeping in touch. 

Don’t Forget to Follow Up 

It takes guts to put yourself out there and make the first move to connect. Job search expert Allison Doyle recommends following up with a professional contact within 24 hours. While you’re busy refreshing your email, remember that your contact has their own set of work responsibilities, home life, and Netflix shows to get caught up on. If you don’t hear back right away, no sweat. Wait a week (but not more than two) before reaching out again. 

And no matter when or how you follow up—online or in-person—make sure to include a thank you. It’s one of the simplest, yet most often overlooked, business networking etiquette rules. A little gratitude goes a long way. 

If you’re still not sure where to start in your business networking journey, Mixtroz is here to help. Learn how the Mixtroz platform does networking differently to make every connection a human connection.