Brush up your networking: Preparation 101

Autumn brings us back to school, back to work, and back to business. Whether you recently landed your first job out of college or are striving for a promotion, it is time to brush-up on your always important networking skills. In this two-part series, I share my top rules on how to best work the room at your next networking function.

Rule #1: Be a stalker. Networking events are opportunities to develop new relationships and strengthen existing ones, so prepare nametagyourself for both. Contact the organizer and request a copy of the guest list in advance. Skim the guest list for anyone you already know and anyone you want to meet. If you know someone registered to attend, contact him or her in advance to express delight at the prospect of crossing paths in the near future then keep an eye out for that person at the event. If you identify someone you want to meet, you may consider reaching out in advance if the guest list provides contact information. Otherwise, settle for online research to prepare yourself for an informed conversation at the event.

Rule #2:  Bring a wing woman.  If the thought of networking is enough to make your palms sweat, then perhaps you should bring a partner. Having the support of someone you know will ease jitters, but be cautious that you do not spend the entire evening talking to your friend. The goal is to expand your network, so use the partner as a tool, not a barrier, to meeting new people. (Note: Same thing goes for cell phones! Get your nose out of your gorgeous new iOS7 update and start mingling.)

Rule #3:  Early bird gets the worm. It is difficult to break into a room crowded with mingling guests already engaged in conversation. Arriving at the start of the event ensures that you will meet the other punctual attendees.

Rule #4:  “Hello. My name is …” If name tags are provided, wear one. Wearing the name tag automatically makes you more approachable. The name tag is conventionally worn on the right lapel so that it remains visible while shaking hands with your right arm. I prefer the fixed position on the shoulder that name tags offer over lanyards, which awkwardly dangle just above the navel. If given the option, select the name tag and embrace the nerd-like feeling you’re sure to get when you slap it on.

Like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. It may be difficult in the beginning, but networking is a skill that pays dividends so I suggest investing now.  These rules will prepare you for the networking function.  The next installment will help you work the room.  Stay tuned!


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  • Reply October 3, 2013

    Margaret Mulkerrin

    This is awesome! Great write up- and really the kind of information my age group (Just getting out of college and into the real world)could really use!

  • […] that counts. Which means it’s time to get out there and start meeting some people. In the first entry of this two-part series on networking, I shared advice on how to prepare for the networking event. Now let’s start working the […]