Attending a seminar is a great way to increase your knowledge on industry-related topics while also obtaining the chance to network with similar business professionals at the same time. This opportunity for networking makes it vital that you be on your best behavior so you leave a positive impression on possible future business contacts. Although seminar etiquette may seem rather straightforward, sometimes we all need a little reminder on how to act appropriately at business networking functions. Here are some things that all business professionals should try to remember about seminar etiquette:
- Prepare to Ask Questions: Learn about the topic to be presented ahead of time and know about the different speakers so you are prepared to ask intelligent questions and actively participate. The more preparation and prior insight, the less chance you will ask a bad question that wastes valuable time for all those that attended. Respect the presenters by showing you value their insight through questions that have been well thought out ahead of time.
- Dress Appropriately: Since the seminar will be filled with your peers and those you aspire to network with, wear clothing that is appropriate for the occasion. Now is not the time to come in cargo shorts and a t-shirt, dress professionally to reflect your business image. By now you should be well-versed in business attire so don’t use a seminar as an excuse to dress down.
- Arrive Early: We all know the saying, “The early bird gets the worm,” and that definitely applies to networking at seminars. Not only does it give you a chance to introduce yourself to others lingering around in the lobby while waiting for the seminar to start, but it also gives you a time cushion to ensure you don’t arrive late. Entering into a seminar after it already started is the utmost sign of disrespect to the presenters and the other attendees, so guarantee that you won’t let that happen to you by planning on arriving at least 30 minutes early.
- Take Notes: By taking notes, you not only give yourself a written record to remember the insightful knowledge imparted at the seminar but it also shows the speakers that you are actively engaged. Something as simple as writing down some words of advice or interesting facts shows that you are interested in what the presenters are saying and value their information. It also demonstrates to the other attendees that you are serious, have the ability to concentrate, and professional; someone they could trust to do business with.
- Turn Your Phone Off: We have all been somewhere when another person’s cell phone starts ringing in the most inappropriate time and felt the frustration that comes with the distraction. At a seminar, a cell phone going off will interrupt the speaker and disturb the rest of the audience, bringing menacing looks upon you. Make sure your phone is off to prevent a noise disturbance and also to keep you from getting distracted from the seminar by texting, playing games, or checking social media.
- Adhere to Set Times: Seminars are most effective when they can stick to the strict schedule they made up. When there is a scheduled break, make sure you accomplish whatever you need to do within that time frame and not a minute longer. Tardiness is yet another interruption and lacks professional courtesy to everyone at the seminar.
- Thank the Speaker: It is important to let the people who took the time to present their coveted information to know how much you appreciated the seminar. Whether you get a chance to thank them personally at the seminar or through a thank you note/email the next day, be sure to share with them your appreciation and what it meant to you.
Since seminars are such an important networking tool, it is important to remain on your best behavior and reflect a professional demeanor. The National Association of Distinguished Professionals offers seminars where you can apply these etiquette tips in order to improve your chances of developing long-term business connections. Even in an online setting it is important to apply seminar etiquette because whether over the web or face-to-face, a first impression goes a long way.
Mulligan, Terry. “Etiquette For Seminars.” Houston Chronicle. Hearst Communications, n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2013.