Networking and Non-Solicitation Guidelines for the Southern Connecticut Chapter of SHRM
To facilitate a free flow of information among its members, SOCT SHRM maintains a strict non-solicitation policy. While a wide array of highly effective opportunities are provided for business development, overt solicitation, use of the Membership Directory for business development or marketing, or sharing of member information with non-members without the Chapter’s prior approval is strictly prohibited. Violations are subject to immediate cancellation of membership, without refund, and loss of all rights and privileges.
In an effort to make the fine line between professional networking and solicitation clearer and easier to recognize, the Board of Directors of SOCT SHRM has approved the following guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate activities (in question/answer format):
Q1. Are members out of bounds if they give out business cards to other members at a Chapter function?
A1. As with any business event, it is appropriate to exchange business cards as part of a business conversation. However, it is not appropriate to just pass out cards to everyone with whom you come in contact. It is also not appropriate to approach another member for the specific purpose of marketing or selling a service/product.
Q2. Is it acceptable to follow up the receipt of a business card with a telephone call, mailing, e-mail or by other means?
A2. If the Chapter member indicated he or she wanted a follow-up call, letter or e-mail, then by all means, do so. If it was merely an exchange of business cards, the following guidelines apply:
– A follow-up telephone call would be appropriate only if specifically requested
– Unsolicited e-mail for marketing or promotional purposes is inappropriate
– A letter in the mail offering future services is OK if you had a conversation with this individual, and he or she expressed interest in receiving additional information
– Newsletters by mail or e-mail are acceptable as long as procedures for opting out from future communications are clear and followed
– Invitation to an educational event is acceptable by mail or e-mail
Q3. Is it OK to send holiday cards with your company name on it to members?
A3. This is acceptable as long as solicitation is not part of the card either directly or indirectly.
Q4. Is it acceptable to ask another Chapter member to recommend your products or services?
A4. This is acceptable if you have a professional relationship with this person.
Q5. Can I use SOCT SHRM to build business?
A5. Yes. By building relationships, working on committees and lending your expertise to projects and programs when called upon. Through professional support, you can better understand the needs of other Chapter members, and through networking, they can understand what you have to offer.
Q6. How can I use the Membership Directory?
A6. You may use the Membership Directory to find the name and number of someone who you may have met at an event. You may also use it to contact a member to ask for help (see Question #8). You may not use it to market or solicit business.
Q7. Can I pass out literature about my business at Chapter functions?
A7. If you are taking advantage of a SOCT SHRM sponsorship opportunity you may distribute literature per the terms of that agreement. Otherwise, members are not to leave promotional materials on meeting tables or openly distribute such during Chapter meetings.
Q8. Can I call upon members when I have a question and want ideas on how other people might handle a particular situation?
A8. Yes, this is one of the values of belonging to SOCT SHRM. It provides opportunities to learn from each other, both formally and informally. Contact via mail, e-mail or telephone is appropriate. This contact should not, however, be used to solicit business.
Q9. Can I send my newsletter or information about an educational session my organization is offering to a member listed in the Membership Directory?
A9. No. You can only send your newsletter and similar educational materials to members with whom you have established a direct relationship (see Question #2).
Each member ultimately decides whether or not an activity by another member represents solicitation. Members are encouraged to be candid with each other and to respect one another’s point of view. SOCT SHRM will investigate any complaint brought by a member and will err on the side of ensuring that its non-solicitation policy is fully adhered to.
Members should also inform their guests about the Chapter’s non-solicitation policy prior to attending a Chapter event. Non-members who violate the policy will be asked to leave the event immediately and will be barred from future attendance.