As a hospitality industry professional, we find ourselves at networking events…a lot! They are a great way to get to know your industry colleagues, clients and market and they are typically a great time. But don’t let the fun overshadow your reason for attending.
- RSVP Respectfully! In today’s world, the etiquette for RSVP’ing is almost a lost art. Remember to RSVP respectfully. Only accept if you intend on attending. These headcounts are used for ordering food, drinks, and in some cases materials or gifts. It is rude to No Show. If something does come up unexpectedly and you are unable to attend, notify the host immediately. And never show up without letting them know you are coming. Understand if you are allowed to bring a guest before you do so.
- Know your Purpose
Before you attend an event, think about WHY you are going? Is it of value? What is the goal? To learn something, meet new contacts, engage with customers? Having an understanding of your purpose will keep you from accepting invites that may not be the best use of time but will also allow you to utilize the time most efficiently. And if you do not have a true business purpose for attending an event, especially if attendance is limited, consider declining the invitation.
- Get out of your bubble
Networking events are a great place to catch up with old friends, but the purpose is to EXPAND your network! Engage with new people. Invite people to sit with you or join your team if there is an activity. Set a goal to meet at least 3 new people at each event.
- You ARE your Brand.
Wherever you go you are not only representing yourself, but your company. Always be aware of your behavior. Speak kindly of your company, colleagues, industry AND competitors. Our industry is a small world…these events are NOT the place to vent. Cocktails are often present at these events. Know your limits and drink with caution. You never want to be the one everyone is talking about the next day.
- Be true to your word!
In these business/social situations, casual conversations often include promises to connect, make introductions or provide more information. Be sure that you follow up on any commitments you make at networking events. A best practice is to make a note right then and follow up as soon as you return to the office, then you won’t forget.
Remember to bring your best self to every event and be aware of your reputation! And most importantly, get out their meet some people and have some fun!