This Will Get You Further Professionally Than Money, Looks, or Connections
Richie Frieman had some truly terrible experiences with his first boss out of undergrad. Lucky for you readers, he’s turned that professional trauma into actionable advice for the rest of us.
Frieman, the “Modern Manners Guy” and a University of Maryland alum, talked to his alma mater yesterday about business etiquette for young professionals. He paid particular attention to the terrifying metamorphosis from college student to working professional that all undergraduates fear. Aside from imparting practical tips about how to act and what to say at networking events, Frieman imparted some really important lessons for Millennials, and I want to share the best ones with you.
- “How you treat people will get you farther than money, looks, or connections.” Every individual you meet will remember you for how you treated him or her. Frieman stressed the importance of being mannerly for the sake of leaving a good impression. Let’s say you meet someone at a professional function and only spend a few minutes — seconds even — conversing with them. What are the chances you’ll meet this person again? It’s impossible to say. But a few months later, you run into this person again. You could end up making a deal with him. That’s when you’ll be happy you were polite at that first encounter. “How you treat people will get you farther than money, looks, or connections,” Frieman said.
- Maturity helps individuals stand out from the rest of the crowd. All young professionals are encouraged to attend as many networking events, career and internship fairs, and alumni gatherings as are available to them. Everyone attends these events for the same reason: to meet people. Depending on which stage you’re at in life, people will expect certain things from you. If you’re in college, they may have set expectations for you. Frieman said one way to impress these individuals is by talking the talk and walking the walk. If you’re at a networking event, don’t be shy. Introduce yourself, shake hands, talk to people, and connect. If you come across like you’re actually “part of the game” you will be recognized.
- Observe each of these easy-to-follow tips when you’re actually at these events.
- Hold your food or drink in your left hand so you can shake with a dry right hand. No one wants a sloppy handshake. If you have sweaty hands, hold a napkin with your drink so you can quickly wipe your hand before the handshake. For guys, try to sneak your hand into your pants pocket and get a quick dry inside.
- Ditch your phone. If you sit in the corner Instagramming your latest selfie, you will appear to others as if you are not interested in the event. You will receive no benefits from staying on your phone and you won’t meet anyone that way.
- Be conversational! I’ve already given you some tips on small talk, and Frieman also stressed the importance. Prepare some talking points before the event, learn about companies, learn who works where and target them at events.
- Excessive eating and drinking is strictly prohibited. Light refreshments are served as snacks. Drinks are served for appearance. Nothing is a greater turnoff in a professional setting than the guy who got tipsy.
- If someone asks you if you know about his company and you don’t, be honest and be inquisitive People love talking about their businesses and this could fuel a great conversation.
- When you are handed a business card, use it as an invitation for a followup. If you do not follow up after being handed a business card, it gives the impression that you merely threw it in the trash. Make connections, you never know when they might help!
While implementing each of these tips, there is one overarching aspect every young professional should remember: “You have every right in the world to be in that room with every other single person, regardless of your age,” Frieman said. Do not become discouraged by your age or your experience. At networking events and professional conventions, everyone is there for a purpose. They want to meet new people, make connections, create new business ventures. Whatever your purpose is, know that you are not alone. At the end of the day this is your experience, do your best and make it whatever you want it to be.
Natasha Paulmeno (@NatashaPaulmeno) is an aspiring PR professional studying at the University of Maryland. She is learning to speak Spanish fluently through travel, music, and school. In her spare time she enjoys Bachata music, playing with her dog, and exploring social media trends.