10 Tips for Networking Etiquette

    Evan Roberts 


Some things you may not know about etiquette…unless you went to the Netiquette (Networking and Etiquette) session at PRSSA National Conference in San Diego.


The etiquette session, presented by professors Laura Neal and Debbie Darling of Cal State-Fullerton, was very interactive and even though I had attended etiquette dinners before, this session included etiquette of networking, table manners and helpful little tips that I hadn’t previously heard. I’m the kind of person who likes to know what “the rules” are, so even if I don’t necessarily follow them all of the time, I’m at least making a conscious, knowledge-based decision. So what did I learn in this session? Quite a few things actually:


  1. How someone presents their business card to you is how you should accept it (two hand presentation=accept with two hands).

  2. Have a “30 second commercial” prepared to quickly introduce yourself and express your goals.

  3. Place your name-tag on the left side of your body so that it isn’t covered when you’re shaking hands.

  4. Ladies should extend their hand to gentlemen first, allowing them to control whether they are comfortable with the exchange.

  5. A good rule for a proper handshake is to touch the web of your hand, between the thumb and index finger, to the web of the person whose hand you’re shaking.                                                                                                                        
    To politely leave a conversation, introduce the person you’re talking with to someone else. (This will come in handy!)

  6. Be aware of the social context of whom you’re networking with (CEO? SAE? freelancer?) and where you are (Luncheon? PRSA event with speaker? Awards banquet?).

  7. Listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time.

  8. If the first to arrive at a table for dinner, wait behind your chair or mingle until everyone is present before sitting down.

  9. Do not carry on side conversations at a dinner table. Try to make sure that everyone feels comfortable and included, even if you are not the host.

  10. Some of these tips I had heard before, such as the one about your name-tag. Others, like standing behind your chair, were new to me. If you want the slides from this presentation, which contain excellent quotes and visuals of place settings, they can be viewed on the PRSSA site.

 (Evan Roberts is a public relations major at Ohio Northern University who will be graduating in May 2010 and writes his own blog at: http://evanprblog.blogspot.com.)

8 thoughts on “10 Tips for Networking Etiquette

  1. I always was told to put my nametag on the right side so that my extended hand led the eye directly to the tag and there was no awkward chest-level eye-scanning….

  2. Evan,

    These are some great tips. This session was very helpful, as it addressed both dining and networking etiquette. Thanks for posting this summary from the session!

  3. The nametag always goes on the right shoulder for the reason mentioned in the earlier response: when you shake hands, the tag in directly in your view.

  4. Evan,

    Great information! I especially enjoyed the tip to prepare a quick pitch for your introduction. This will hopefully open up a conversation too. Also, I find it useful to make notes on the back of people’s business cards, so I remember the conversations we shared.

  5. This is good information! I wasn’t able to attend the speed networking event in San Diego for the conference, so it’s nice to see a list of tips!

    I’m sure these will come in handy, especially for a college student! I haven’t quite heard of many of them before.

  6. Katelyn, I agree. I do the same thing with business cards. It definitely helps to jot down some quick notes on the back, such as how you met, what you talked about or even a memorable physical attribute! If they had great hair, write it down! Things like that really help you to remember the moment.

  7. Great tips, and yes, the right side is the RIGHT side as a few folks also noted above. I also reco using the back of biz cards for notes about the person or what it is they need help with and is key to good follow-up. Some more tips can be found in “I’m at a Networking Event–Now What???” currently available on Amazon.

  8. As an etiquette coach and image consultant, name tags should go on the right as to make it easy on the eye to follow and identify the name tag when shaking hands. Your eyes are already naturally moving in that direction because of the handshake.

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