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"To be seen handing out business cards at a funeral would be the height of bad taste," says etiquette expert William Hanson. Indeed, the idea of someone scattering business cards like confetti at weddings, funerals and christenings conjures up a character such as David Brent, the buffoon hell-bent on self promotion from the television comedy The Office.
And yet most people will have seen examples of this kind of antisocial networking with behaviourally tone deaf individuals pitching themselves at what are obviously non-work events.
Mike Phipps, co-founder of Politics at Work, a consultancy that specialises in the art of influence, says that this is the result of the modern business mindset. "The pressure is on for people to network constantly. So much of work is now about who you know and sites like LinkedIn encourage this thinking. We live in a networked world, where you start to wonder if we've got to the stage where there are no networking taboos."
It wasn't always like this. Mr Hanson says that, traditionally, you did not even ask people what they did for a living at social occasions, as this would allow you to make judgments about their wealth and social standing.
However, not all of today's networking at social events need be judged transgressive. Carole Stone, founder of TheStoneClub networking organisation, says: "A couple of weeks ago, I went to see a friend at the end of their life and the person who had invited us was very, very nice. I said to them, 'I do hope we keep in touch.' It's very easy to do."
Mr Hanson adds: "If you talked to someone after a funeral and discovered you had a mutual interest it would be fine to exchange numbers."
Ms Stone notes that some non-work related events can be good places to network: "Weddings are perfect - there are usually dozens of people who don't know anyone so you can just go up people and introduce yourself."
The trick, as always, is not to network excessively. "If you told someone you were a solicitor and they replied that they were buying a house and asked for your card, it would be OK to give it to them," says Mr Phipps. "The fact that they'd asked would have legitimised it. But if you were touting for business, pressing your details on people who didn't request them, that would be a bit awful."
Mr Hanson adds: "You should remember some people don't like spending their spare time talking about their work. Also, if you have people in a similar sector talking shop at a dinner table, it can get quite cliquey and make the rest of the guests feel excluded."
For all that, there are some events where networking is a sign of respect. The Queensland, Australia-based Courier Mail recently announced the funeral of Frank Haly, a local businessman who had been an enthusiastic proponent of networking. According to the Courier Mail, his wake was to be run as a "final networking session" with the funeral notice reading: "In honour of Frank, and in the spirit of community, please bring your business cards, plans and dreams, and be ready to share and contribute to those of others at the gathering at the cathedral after the funeral."