By Deborah A. Genovesi, PR Veteran & Former TV Reporter

Have you ever been to a networking event and seen some poor soul stammering his way through some ineffectual patter about their business? Be honest, you may have even been there yourself. You may be a genius at WHAT you do but are you well-versed in telling others about it in a way that translates to clients and money?

Or maybe you have A LOT to say, and you attempt to download every detail when asked that question. Soon you notice the other person’s eyes are glazed over. This person is NOT going to work with you. They have no idea what you do, haven’t seen the value in it for them and can’t possibly refer you to anyone. You missed a chance to connect, which is what networking is all about!

Fear not, little networker—there’s a cure for your networking trespasses! Let’s look at the foundation of networking etiquette and clear up some common mistakes.

Fix these and you can ace your next business conversation and walk away with a valuable new contact.

1. Improve your listening skills: This is easy but frequently overlooked. If you don’t know who you’re talking with or what they need, how will you interest them in what you offer? If more people went into networking (and LIFE) with a pledge that they’ll listen twice as much as they talk, the world would spin in a happier way. You want to have a dialogue, not deliver a monologue.

2. Slow down: Don’t race from one conversation to another, unloading a ton of business cards. You wouldn’t want to be the target of a “hit-and-run” networker!

Take time to truly engage and ask about the other person’s business, goals, and challenges. And look at the person as you talk, not over her shoulder to see if there’s someone else you’d rather engage. That’s rude.

3. Be helpful—don’t sell: As entrepreneurs we’re excited and we want to tell the world about our businesses! That exuberance is great, but it must be tempered. Again, find out who you are talking with by asking questions about them. Then, if you can be of service, you are able to explain HOW. If not, think about what you can offer by way of
referral, a useful resource or perhaps business advice.

Deborah A. Genovesi, APR “Your Communications Copilot” is an accredited PR veteran and former TV reporter helping professional women become known as experts in their fields so they can attract ideal clients and increase income. Reach her at