Networking events often have food associated with them.  Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, hors d’oeuvres, etc, there are a few simple rules you can follow to make sure the comestibles don’t interfere with your networking efforts.

  1. Whenever possible, don’t eat until you’ve accomplished your networking goals.  If your goal is to meet three new people during the event, then let the buffet line be your reward for snagging that third business card.
  2. No food fights!
  3. Unless it would be offensive, always eat finger foods with your left hand.  No one wants to shake hands with your pizza sauce besmirched paw.
  4. At a sit-down event, never sit at an empty table.  You are there to meet people.  Sit with them
  5. At a sit-down event, never sit at a table with anyone from your company.  You already know them.
  6. In general eschew the alcohol.  If it would be impolite to do so, then obviously consume only in moderation.
  7. In fact, everything in moderation.  I can’t think of a single good business impression conveyed by a plate piled so high with food that it’s in danger of collapsing under its own weight.
  8. Never let the phrase “Are you going to finish that?” come out of your mouth.

Remember the old saying.  It’s called networking not neteating.  You should always be focusing on the real reason you are attending (and it shouldn’t be just to sample the pigs in a blanket.

So, what networking food rules do you have?