Professional Etiquette in Networking

A few months ago I walked into a local Networking event and while I surveyed the room, mentally preparing my intro, I saw some familiar faces. One after another flocked into the room of various business owners, employees and representatives. Many knew each other and a few were newcomers, but one person immediately attracted my attention when a prominently known professional Christian business owner walked into the room and another individual felt comfortable enough to attempt to discreetly flip a gesture to the other. Sadly I happen to be a witness to this incident and whether it was noticed by anyone else, I knew at the moment that I would not be interested in getting to know the person or their business affiliation. I'm not perfect and I really do my best not to judge because all of us have off days, however, there is a time and a place to exhibit your integrity and values and off the cuff behaviors should be checked at the front door. In particular, a networking event should not be the place and your reputation should be of the utmost appearance, especially if you are interested in generating new business. One of the things that I am have a strong awareness of is security cameras. Not that I have a fear of hiding something, but more of a fear of revealing something. I was never one who thought about the camera in a public location until one day, I realized there was a person, usually a man, who is sitting behind them watching you. For example, we all are guilty of making adjustments to our clothing and accessories in hallways, elevators and behind clothing racks, but one day, I realized that any discreet adjustment can be seen by anyone. My awareness became more frightening when I realized what my husband was seeing watching a monitor that showed eight different camera views and what he was seeing when someone didn’t think anyone was watching them. When you think no one can be watching because no one is in front of you or behind you, you may be wrong, there may be a camera. I have to remind people all of the time that there are men watching the cameras and they can see you and everything you are doing and it is being recorded, so be careful what you adjust in the hallway.

The same is for public locations. Hidden and visible cameras that are everywhere. Crimes have been solved by cameras in establishments and you don’t have to be inside to be viewed on a camera. In fact, that is how a local serial killer was found a few years ago. They were able to track the movements of a missing person and he was seen in the cameras that were in businesses and the link that brought his to the connection of the disappearance. He thought he was safe and his co-workers praised him and his compassion for the people he served, but he was a serial killer.

So what does this have to do with networking. Well you probably are thinking nothing, but in reality it does. Our eyes are just like cameras. Nothing you are doing in a roomful of people is a secret, even if you think the only person who your action was intended to would be the only one to notice, someone else noticed it too and it can leave a very poor reflection of who you are as a person.

Be mindful of your surroundings, people and who can see your intentions, whether they are with integrity or without integrity. Either way, referrals can be lost without saying a word. Actions are not always hidden.