Networking and Network Etiquette
Evolution Career Business Leadership
Joseph Vee Mullin
Network – an association of individuals having a common interest, formed to provide
mutual assistance, helpful information, or the like:
Networking – a supportive system of sharing information and services among
individuals and groups having a common interest:
Etiquette –the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among
the members of a profession in their dealings with each other:
I start with definitions because they are very relevant to the rest of this paper. It provides
the reader an insight to the subject matter presented.
Whether we realize it or not we network everyday of our lives. There are different types
of networking and we will discuss each of them. There is power in networking and we
will discuss that as well.
So let us start by discussing the meaning of the common interest to clarify what it means
in relation to networking. A common interest could be any interest from your or your
child’s sport, going to the dentist or doctor, dealing with your bank, alumni’s, former
colleagues, and business.
Common interest in the case of networking it means that there is information or a service
required by one and provided by another.
What is the power of networking?
The power is in your ability to seek out that what you need from informed or reliable
sources. It also means that you have the ability to provide to others in terms of goods or
The power is in your ability to build relationships and trust in interactions with others.
That these relationships are going to be lasting ones.
This is the general overview of networking. The rest of this paper will get into the types
and the purposes and the how to of networking.
We will also cover etiquette and why it is important to most types of networking.
Face to Face
Now you will ask,” Are not most of these the same?” The answer is yes and no. Yes in
that the approach is the same and no because the execution is different.
In this case I am not talking about the online social networking. I am talking friends and
family. This could fall under the category of face to face but it has many avenues of
communications so it is separate.
This is the type of networking that is more relaxed and causal. It happens at events like
weddings, funerals, parties, sports events, and concerts.
This is the most overlooked network that people have. Maybe this is because it is not a
But if one was to think about it in a deeper perspective they would realize that the vast
network these people have is most beneficial at times.
I am talking about your doctor, dentist , lawyer, mechanic, cleaners, and well you get the
point. These are people who have a variety of clients that you may need to call on some
day when you need them.
For example you are at the dentist and in the small talk you say, “ I have a problem at
home and I wish I knew a good plumber.” The dentist may answer, “well I just worked
on a plumber yesterday who did some work for me and I was very pleased with her
So you get a referral from your dentist for a plumber, who would have thought that would
I am going to separate one aspect of online because I want to cover in the next section of
business. It is becoming such a powerful tool today that it needs to be covered outside the
realm of what is termed social networking, which is LinkedIn and Twitter.
Online or social networking or social media networking is services like Facebook, My
Space and hosts of others. You could say that it is any online medium in which two or
more people can converse at the same time on their computer or smartphone.
Twitter is an online service that can be used in a personal way or a business way.
So if you want to hear about Ashton Kutcher walking around in his socks and underwear
or what he is eating for breakfast then it is personal.
If you are looking to put out intellectual content then it can be used for business.
The nice thing about Twitter is that you have the ability to follow who you want, control
who follows you, and to choose between all personal or all business or both.
Time to break an ill-conceived notion for some. This is not just for career seekers!
It is a vital part of doing business as well.
You need information you are not sure where to get or from whom to get it.
What do you do?
You turn to your network of peers, alumnus, and former colleagues.
Why? Because you have a trusting relationship with these people so they are your go to
You will get referrals from your network and begin making new relationships based on
Career seekers will use their network to find connections into target companies to learn
more about the company culture and the management style of the department they may
They may find out form the information gathered that it would not be a good fit for them
so that they can place their efforts elsewhere.
There is a variety of business networking and reasons for it. You are trying to find a new
vendor or supplier, a person or business that supplies a service you need, a contractor or
consultant, information on a new technology or product, or even a new hire.
Business networking involves using the other types of networking to get the job done.
There is power in your network in that it can make your job easier, faster and more
effective because you have gone to your trusted sources for assistance.
You utilize face to face when you go to conventions, conferences, professional
organization meetings, networking events and other business functions.
You use the new power tools today, LinkedIn and Twitter, to build new relationships and
rekindle old ones.
These tools allow you to expand your networks and make connections that you would
have not other wise have made.
No they are not 24/7 time consumers. You decide how much time and energy you want to
put into them. But like live networks you get out what you have put into them.
Face to Face;
To some this is the most uncomfortable part of networking.
The dreaded talking to strangers!
Maybe it is your approach to the event or situation where you need to talk to someone
you do not know.
Networking is about sharing and giving. If your approach is that you are going to work
the room until you find 3 – 5 people that you can help.
Then your attitude is different than just having to talk to strangers.
I love face-to-face events because I find people interesting and I always learn something
new at each event. I listen more than I talk but if I can offer something in return then I
am more than happy to do so. Mission accomplished! Spend no more than 10 to 15
minutes with any one person or small group.
I feel so Emily Post when I have to write on this topic.
For the younger crowd that may not know Emily she wrote a book on etiquette before I
was born that became the bible of etiquette.
If we go back to the definition of etiquette you see that it is about a behavior or a process
in dealing with others.
Networking requires this etiquette in order to be highly effective. In order for you to
achieve your goal you must follow the rules of engagement.
Part of what I am about to cover is common sense, part is what you were taught at a
young age, hopefully, and the other part is the reason that it works.
The largest part of starting and maintaining a network is communications.
Most people view communications as I talk you listen.
However, they miss the most powerful part and that is listening and comprehending what
This can eliminate a large amount of misconceptions and perceived thoughts that are
wrong. Always ask for feedback!
Assumptions to avoid;
Instant gratification----Networking is about building relationships not databases so it
takes time. The time can be shortened by how much you put into it.
Receiving and not giving back --- Takers are recognized quickly and you will find that
your network is always collapsing. Networking is about giving.
The receiving will come when one feels they can trust you and that you will not damage
their reputation when they refer you to someone else in their network.
I cannot ask for help --- networking is all about helping each other.
You must remember that your reputation and trust and that of your contacts need to be
honored at all times in any dealing you have with others.
Things to honor and cherish;
Reputation --- your good reputation needs to be protected by yourself and members of
One slip up can destroy a relationship that took time to build and repair may not be
Trust --- Have you ever had someone’s trust and lost it? Did you ever regain that trust to
the full extent you had?
Trust is something we have to earn it is not given to us immediately.
We all have to trust another on face value but it during the time of earning that one can
destroy it as well.
So what does all this have to do with etiquette? Everything as it is part of the professional
Lets us start with the newest tool LinkedIn. You find someone during a people search that
you think you could have a mutual beneficial connection with. So you click on the Send
A couple of things could happen, you get the connect window or you get the you need to
be recommended window or you get the you two do not know each other and you cannot
So we will cover the first two.
When you get the connect window there is a default message in the box. Most people just
hit the send button. This is not a good way to start a relationship with someone you do
Tell the person the reason you think it would be beneficial to connect. What you think
you can provide them and what you are looking for. This is etiquette.
If you get the referral window, take the time to write your referral contact a message as
well as the person you are trying to connect with. Be sure to tell the person you are trying
to connect with how you know the referral person. Again this is proper etiquette.
If you get the, you do not know this person message. Go to their profile and see if they
have their groups listed. Join one of the groups and get into the discussion so that your
name becomes familiar. Please add good content to the discussion not just yes I agree
messages. The through the group you can send a message directly to the person asking to
contact or go back to the invite and choose we are in the same group. Do not do this
move right after joining the group it is very obvious what you are trying to do and it will
fail. It will also damage your good reputation.
The great thing about Twitter is that you are limited to 140 characters. So it makes you
think about how to say that thesis in your head in a more brief and concise manner.
This can help your communications skills.
The danger is that you can be easily misread and then you are spending too much time
performing damage control. So read your Tweet at least three time and if you are still not
comfortable with it then delete it instead of hitting send.
It is proper Tweet etiquette that, if you like what someone else has said or the link they
posted then a retweet of it accepted as a thank you.
Retweets are appreciated by the sender or the rewetter.
Yes a Tweet can go viral if it is good. The problem is that you will not know that it went
What you say will attract other to follow you. It is etiquette but not required to follow
In conducting business we do not have a problem picking up the phone and making a
cold call to a new vendor or supplier.
Okay, we have a little apprehension, none of us like rejection.
We put on our best business voice and say yes this is, insert name and title, of the Acme
Corporation, I am thinking about doing business with you and need more information.
That is business etiquette. It is also the start of a new network connection.
The receptionist would appreciate it if you started out the call. Good morning, how are
you today? Then listen and then say I am hoping that you can help me and then go into
the business speech. Again this is etiquette.
The above scenario starts out with two informational requests. You are looking for
information from the receptionist and then the person she connect you to. From the
receptionist you are looking for the right person and a name to be connected to. From the
connection you are seeking information on a product or service they provide that you
So you can see by using proper etiquette it can get you where you need to be quicker and
How far do you think you would get if the conversation went, yeah this is John over at
Acme connect with the guy in charge of service will you. Be prepared to hear, leave a
message at the tone for service.
This is a little nerve wrenching in that again we are faced talking to strangers. However,
you do have something in common with them.
You have your industry and/or the subject matter. This breaks that barrier down a little
If someone you know is talking to someone you want to talk to you can ask for an
introduction. This makes it easier to talk and provides you with some credibility because
you are being introduced.
Well actually it is how you are introduced. Remember etiquette?
The proper way is for the introducer to first introduce the person you want to talk to and
tell how they know them and a little about them.
Then introduce you and to tell how they know you and little about you.
This is a good start to the relationship!
So let us say you are an extrovert who does not need an introduction. How do you handle
Introduce your self, start with a hi then your name.
At this point I would say your company name is optional, as you will get to that soon
Then say the person’s name it should be right there on their tag or badge and ask what do
you do? If the company name is on the tag/badge mention that as well. What do you do at
Acme Corporation. Well I sell Road Runner capture products to Coyotes. Interesting!
Listen to what they say and give information back where you can. If the person will not
be able to help you in any way then it is okay to politely say so and exit the conversation.
If you go to an event that you find helpful to attend, then we you get there and you see
people that you talked to before, that you are building a relationship with, then be sure to
just say a quick hello and provide them with any new information you have for them.
This does not have to be the 10 - 15 minute conversation you would normally have.
People like to be acknowledged so a simple hello and are you looking for anyone in
particular tonight would be sufficient.
Remember the approach is that you have information and knowledge that someone can
use and needs. You just have to find them in a room full of people.
To close this paper I will talk about the power of etiquette and networking together.
The power of networking and doing it right is the building of relationships, the earning of
trust, and to having a great reputation as one that is helpful and knowledgeable in their
The power is in that others will want to connect to you. That your network will grow
without you having to work hard at it. Because people will be seeking you out and those
in your network will be singing your praise.
Where do you think great leaders like Jack Welch would have gotten without a network?
We probably would not even know of his name.
Etiquette will open doors more quickly, it will make you even more professional, it will
make building relationships quicker and easier. Why? Because the people you are
relating to will be helping you along the way as you are the person they want to deal
with. It will help your reputation become better.
Networking, as long as you remember that there has to be a mutual benefit for both sides,
your network will grow and be strong.
This is the power of networking, strong relationships, assistance when you or someone
you know needs it, a vast array of resources to call upon or to refer to others, a great
reputation built on trust. It only comes to those who use it wisely and do not try to
Enjoy and cherish your networks. Let them know they are appreciated.