In my prior blog titled Shaking Hands, Avoiding Shaking Hands & Hugging, I covered:
- How to correctly shake hands
- How to shake hands with women
- How to avoid shaking hands (for health reasons).
If you’ve not read that one yet, click here and have a read first. So, now onto part B of this blog.
Online Networking Tips
When I say online, I’m talking the use of Teams, Zoom or similar to network and do business with people. We’ve all got pretty good at ‘Zooming’ around with business meetings and networking events for many months (more in areas like Melbourne) becoming the norm via Zoom or Teams.
- Get your time zones right. If you’re now networking with people in different states, you need to sort your time zones. I’ve discovered the fun of this as soon as daylight savings comes into play as I work with business coaching clients in WA, Vic, NSW, Qld and SA. Many different time zones.
- Arrive on time; this goes the same whether online or in person; it’s good business etiquette to turn up on time. If you aren’t battling traffic, you really have no excuse. If you will be a minute or so late, send a text to the person (if an individual meeting), otherwise I recommend you plan to be there 5 minutes ahead of time.
- Ensure your technology is working and functional. If you are unfamiliar, do a practice run with a friend or family member first.
- Have a suitable background. At the very least blur or have a professional background and if you’re in business, then brand this. I love Zoom for that reason because I can have my branded background present on all my calls.
- Just because you might be working from home (and might have your PJ bottoms and slippers on), please ensure the top half is professional and well-groomed. If you haven’t run a brush through your hair for a week it will show as much online as in person.
- Don’t do other things whilst in the meeting. In fact, I minimise all other screens so I can focus 100% on the person I’m talking to. Don’t be checking emails or doing other things; it will show and it’s not only rude; it shows zero respect for the other person and their time.
No different from face-to-face (F2F) networking, the same is online; use a person’s name. If you didn’t hear it clearly, then ask “Sorry, I didn’t catch your name?” Ideally, repeat it back so you know you’ve got it right. People’s names are important to them, and using them shows interest in them and respect.
Never shorten a person’s name without their permission. Rebecca may not appreciate Bec and Robert may not like being called Bob or Bobby. If someone has signed off their email Bec or Bob although their official name is the longer version, I clarify. “Do you prefer Bec or Rebecca?”
If you have a bad memory, then write it down. Mindset does play a part here. Don’t say “I’m hopeless with names” otherwise you will be hopeless. Instead, I’m getting better with remembering names and work on writing them down and working to remember. It’s a skill you can develop.
Finally, when it comes to names, please avoid ‘darling’, ‘sweetheart’ or other overly familiar terms, particularly with people you don’t know very well. It’s just not appropriate or professional.
Ok, this is a personal hate of mine. Online forms which give you only the option of Mr, Miss, Mrs or Ms. It’s not the 1950’s and a woman should not be expected to identify her marital status. Sure, I know the Ms was designed to avoid this, but really, if you’re a Ms you probably are older or not married or divorced. Males don’t even have the Master category now. IF you want to service clients better (and not tick off female customers) and address them by their title, then don’t make this field compulsory OR have a category ‘I prefer to be called by my first name’. It’s the 21st century however I cannot believe how many companies hold onto old and antiquated values. Google tells me that “’Ms.’ is often the safest option, as this is a neutral title that can be used for a woman whether she is married or not.” Again, why is a woman’s marital status even being talked about? Ok, vent over. 😊
Networking Body Language
Here are some timely reminders about body language, networking and doing business. The first few are not body language tips, but pretty important:
- Listen twice as much as you talk. Great networkers are excellent listeners.
- Don’t expect to ‘sell’ to a person at a networking event; keep it light and have a one-on-one meeting with them afterwards if you want to talk business more. Instead, focus more on asking the other person questions; but again, keep it light; it’s not the ‘Spanish Inquisition’.
- If you are going to compliment someone, keep it appropriate; don’t say how great their derrière looks.
- Don’t whinge; complaining about the food, the speaker or the event is just going to make you look exceedingly negative and no-one really wants to network with negative Nelly / Ned.
- Be inclusive; if you see someone not involved; endeavour to include and involve them.
- Be focussed; if you’re at a networking event, don’t be glued to your phone’s screen.
- Smile; even over the phone, a smile can be heard.
- Don’t cross your arms; this is negative and closed. This signals that you are defensive, negative, anxious, insecure or distant. If you’re actually cold, find another way to warm up, and in fact, keeping your wings (elbows) in will help more. Crossed legs (when standing) have a similar effect, but are not as obvious.
- Lean in – this shows interest and attention.
- Avoid yawning; even if you need to have a second coffee; you might have had a late night; but yawning is also a sign of boredom.
- Keep your eyes on that person; not elsewhere; again, shows you are fully listening and care what the other person is saying; not scouting the room for a better prospect to talk to.
- If you’re nervous; keep your feet and hands still. Even if you have to hold your hands together so they don’t develop a life of their own.
- Keep your hands visible. For the men, avoid jamming them in your pockets. This is a subconscious message that you’re trying to hide something, don’t agree with them or that you don’t want to talk to them. Having your hands shown messages transparency.
- Nod, smile (yes I know I said it before, but it’s worthy of being said twice) and use facial expressions like you really are listening – which you really should be doing.
Remember that in business, people do business with people, rather than companies. We do business with people we like, know and trust, so it makes sense to develop our networking, customer service and communication skills. There are other strategies and skills, but hopefully this will be a great start for you. If I can help in anything networking or business coaching; please just reach out to me or CONTACT ME. Make a spectacular day!