Networking etiquette is something that we need to talk about. I know, or at least I hope, we were all taught manners when we were growing up, so why aren’t we minding them?

Do you wonder why people walk away or ignore you at events? Do you wonder why you aren’t getting invited to more coffee conversations? Do you know someone who needs a lesson in manners? I’d like to share just a few quick networking etiquette tips that might serve you well.

Here are some quick reminders that shouldn’t need to be said:

Smell yourself!

  • Check your breath, they make breath mints for a reason.
  • Take a bath or at least use your deodorant stick. Body odor is offensive, too much perfume is too.

Dress the part

  • Dress professionally. If you want to be successful, you need to look the part.
  • If you have a uniform, great! Make sure it’s clean.


  • Turn off the cell phone, the laptop, and any other technology that will distract you.
  • If you are expecting an important call or have kids that may need you, put your phone on stun. If it does ring, excuse yourself and find a quiet place to take the call.

Food and Drink

  • Don’t talk with food in your mouth. If there are hors d’oeuvres, put them down so you can shake hands.
  • Don’t consume too much alcohol. Better yet, don’t consume any, it impairs judgement, and you should never have to regret or apologize for your behavior because of it.

Close or Loud Talkers Beware

  • People don’t like feeling closed in. Be careful not to invade someone’s personal bubble or you might get yours broken and not know why.
  • Loud talkers be aware. Some people have sensitive hearing. Being too loud can be offensive.

Here are the reminders that NEED to be said:

Don’t get ugly!

  • There’s no room for politics at networking events. Hear me out on this one. Political conversations can get heated and hurtful things may be said. There’s no reason for it in business conversations and networking events unless the event is for a politician’s campaign. Why loose business or friends over politics?

In a recent conversation with a friend she told me she walked out of a networking meeting because a political conversation between two longtime members of the group had turned into a rather ugly argument. Don’t let this happen to you. Remember, it’s about business. (And if your business IS politics, be sensitive to the people in the room.)

  • No negativity allowed either! Negativity drives people away. People don’t want to hear you complain about how bad business is, how someone stole business from you, or how bad your competition is. And don’t say negative things about the group or the members unless you are willing to step up and make the commitment to do the work yourself. When you speak negatively it’s only a bad reflection on you.

Be positive, friendly, and upbeat. You will attract way more attention with a positive attitude and a kind smile.


  • Be careful not to cut people off when they are in the middle of a conversation. Be considerate of others. If you want to say hello, excuse yourself when the moment presents itself, say hello, and then join the conversation. Allow them to continue.


  • Be aware of what’s going on in the moment. If someone is already engaged in conversation, don’t change the subject and pull the person away. People are often excited to share news with their friends and don’t even realize they are doing this. It is easy enough to tell them you need a moment of their time before leaving and then allowing them to continue their conversation.


Trapping People

  • Be mindful of other people’s time and space. As I mentioned before, be mindful of personal space. Some people, like myself, are claustrophobic and struggle with confined spaces or feeling closed in. If you ever notice someone backing up while you are talking with them, give them space. Trust me, they won’t run they just need room to breathe.


  • Be sensitive to the amount of time you monopolize with someone. Remembers, it’s a networking event. People are there to connect with multiple people. If someone feels trapped by a conversation when they are worrying about the other people they wanted to see before they leave, you’ve already lost them. Their attention is elsewhere. If you are having a great conversation and want to continue, invite them to coffee. One on ones are a great way to get someone to give you and only you their attention.

Card Pushers

  • Finally…Card Pushers…DON’T BE ONE! Yes, bring your cards and have them handy but don’t go around handing them out like they are candy to little kids. Have a conversation, ask people for their cards and then offer yours. Be memorable, people want to know you, then they can connect the face with your card and be able to pick it out of the pile from all the others that were pushed at them that day.


Networking etiquette is something we could all use a little brushing up on. I hope you found these tips helpful. Be sure to share them with your network and see who’s minding their manners the next time you meet.

At 30 Second Success we help people develop their 30 second messages for networking and video and we help people improve their networking skills to maximize their networking efforts. To learn more about how we work with businesses, organizations, and entrepreneurs to craft and market their brand message through networking, schedule a call today.

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