Practice Networking Etiquette

The last, but possibly the most important tool for good networking is to make sure you observe networking etiquette. Here are a few essentials to remember:

  • Always respect your contact's names. Get an OK before you use a person's name as a referral to get to someone else.

  • Make sure you call people at times that are convenient for them. If you're on the East Coast, don't forget about the three-hour time difference and call someone on the West Coast at 6 a.m. Don't wake someone at midnight just to "touch base."

  • Follow through on your promises. If someone asks for a copy of an article you've mentioned, jot that request on the back of her or his business card and send the article within the week. If you offer to give someone a phone number, make sure you send it. Even if you haven't made specific commitments to your contacts, communicate with them to stay visible. Send them cards at holiday time, ask them to lunch "for no reason at all," clip articles you know they would appreciate and send them with your card. Think of creative ways to keep in touch.

  • Thank everyone who helps you or provides you with leads. At any given meeting, you're bound to come away with at least three ideas or tips. Thank the people who offered them with a one-minute phone call or brief handwritten note. It's wise to thank people for leads and ideas even if their suggestions don't pan out; your contacts will appreciate the follow-up.

To learn more about networking, check the libraries and bookstores in your area and Internet book sellers like Powell's, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Parts of this module are adapted from an earlier article by Leslie E. Smith: Smith, L. E. (1992). Networking. In L. K. Jones (Ed.), Encyclopedia of career change and work issues (pp. 195-197). Phoenix: The Oryx Press.

Return to Networking