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Start out with a Positive Attitude - Walk through the door with confidence, having decided in advance that you will meet new contacts or clients rather than conversing with those you already know or just left at the office a few hours ago.

Nametags Are Useful - Typically, the nametag is worn on the right side, below the shoulder.  Some companies may prefer the left side because the company logo is on the right.

Introduce Yourself - Let the other person know who you are by using your first and last name in an introduction.  If you would prefer a “nickname”, let them know at this time, but be careful not to use nicknames that make you appear silly or juvenile.  Skip “Missy” and opt for “Melissa” or “John” over “Johnny”.

Break into an existing conversation properly - Walk up to two people or a group of three or more people, extend your hand for a handshake and say "Pardon me for interrupting, may I join your conversation, my name is Sam Jones."

Converse with people you do not already know - The goal of a networking event is to meet and hold conversation with those you are unfamiliar with or do not know very well.  Stay away from touchy subjects such as politics, health reform, sex and divorce.  Read the newspaper in advance and be prepared to discuss sports teams and the scores, movies, current events and the latest book you read.

Introducing Another Person - A client always takes precedence over a member of your own company, including the CEO.  When making an introduction, mention the client’s name first.

Don't randomly hand out business cards until you have established some type of relationship - Business cards should be offered at the end of a conversation by saying "May I offer you my business card?”.  Do not ask for a business card from a senior executive.

Don’t Assume You May Give Another Person a Nickname - Some use this technique to appear cordial or familiar, but it is a dangerous assumption.

Forgetting Names - If you forget a person’s name, do not hesitate to ask by saying, “Please remind me of your name.”

A Memorable Handshake - Always offer a proper handshake when you greet someone and then again when you close a conversation.  A firm but not aggressive handshake is appropriate for both men and women. Women should not wait for the man to extend his hand first, nor should a man wait for the woman to extend her hand.  The first person to extend his or her hand has the “power”.

Mix and Mingle - It is appropriate to greet the host of the event, acknowledge those you know and introduce yourself to others you do not know or do not know well.  Spend 4 to 6 minutes in light conversation, excuse yourself with a handshake and continue to mingle. 

Holding a Drink - Carry your beverage in your left hand to be prepared to shake hands with fellow guests.  A cold and clammy shake from a cold drink is not the best first impression.

Do Not Overindulge - You are not at a business function to eat or drink.  Your primary goal is to make a favorable impression with your client, future client and boss.  Eat but do not overeat and drink alcohol in moderation or not at all.  Drinking a soft drink, juice or water is not a business faux pas.

Closing the Conversation - A pleasant “goodbye” is mandatory.  Always end a conversation by saying something similar to “It was nice to see you.”  Never say, “Let’s get together soon” unless you intend to make the effort to follow through.

About the Author:

Business etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman helps executives develop leadership skills and interpersonal mannerisms that build relationships and close deals. To help you avoid dining blunders that can break a deal she has created etiquette programs for corporations, nonprofit organizations and executives looking to fine-tune their skills.



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