12 October 2016

5 Tips For Your Next Networking Event

5 Tips For Your Next Networking Event - www.greysuede.com

Let's face it, networking is uncomfortable, it sucks, and is critical to your career. Watching other people network was always my comfort zone position while at networking events. I would meander through the room politely smiling at anyone who made eye contact with me, head to the bathroom to escape the room, and finally leave the minute I felt I had been there long enough. Now in no way can I truthfully say that that still isn't my comfort zone and that at some events that is all I want to do, but I have also realized that in order to effectively do my job and get the next job I want, I had to learn how to network.

Thankfully I have been fortunate to work alongside some women who have not only figured out how to network but also how to network in a way that seems natural and very personable. It is easy to become robotic and merely get to the point of exchanging contact details or business cards with the other person, but you need to do more than leave them with your business card, you need to leave them with an impression that you are great, that you could help them, and are worthwhile contacting.

It doesn't matter if you are still in college, a recent grad, or well into your career, networking is a skill that you have to learn and I hope that my tips discovered through trial and error, mentoring, and embarrassment will help your next networking event be a little bit more worthwhile and productive.

1. Do Your Homework

Not all networking events will make this easy but if you are able to make a game plan of who will be there, who you want to meet there, define why you are going and what you want to get out of it. A silly as it sounds I really do write this all down on a piece of paper before I head out the door. Knowing who you want to meet there gives you objectives, a do to list of sorts and will help you feel like you have a purpose during the event. You also need to know why you are there because for some reason people will ask you why you are there despite what seems obvious- to meet people! You need to be ready with a good answer whether it be relating to your job or an interest in a field or topic.

2. Find a Table Early On

Especially early on at networking events, it can be pretty awkward standing there with no one to talk to. I always try to find a table and make it my initial home base at the start of an event. For one thing it is convenient especially if you get a drink and some food because you can eat something while more people arrive and it is not weird to be alone munching at a table. More importantly though, as more people arrive they too will want somewhere to put their drink down and will surely find your table and start talking to you. It is a great solution to being uncomfortable going up to people and breaking into conversation.

3. Wear Clothing with Pockets

Okay so I admit this one is weird but it is something I never thought about until my boss mentioned it to me one evening when i was struggling to find a place to pin a name badge on my sweater. Wearing a shirt or jacket with a pocket is great for this since you can clip a namebadge onto the pocket and not worry about damaging your shirt. I made the mistake once of putting it at the bottom of my shirt and people were very uncomfortable looking down toward my hips to see my name badge- never again. I also try to wear pants with pockets or a dress with pockets on it so that i can quickly stash someones business card away or grab one of my own.

4. Accept That You Will Be Uncomfortable

No matter what it is going to be awkward and the best way to overcome it is to accept that nothing you can do, no amount of preparation will remove the nerves and uncomfortable feelings. You are not alone and no matter how hard you tell yourself everyone else is better at it that you or more comfortable than you, the truth is they feel the same way, they have just powered through.

5. Normal Conversations Are Okay

Especially out of college it can be daunting being the youngest or most inexperienced in a room of professionals, and even more so if you are not fully comfortable speaking about a particular industry or topic. Although everyone is probably there because a certain topic or industry is shared, they are all people and some of the best business relationships are actually forged from normal conversations on topics other than business. Shy away from generic topics like the weather for instance and try to find mutual ground. Sometimes cities you've lived in, the school you went to, or your hobbies can all strike conversations that each of you will remember once the evening is finished. You should try to bring the conversation back to the purpose of the event though and hopefully you will feel more comfortable with the person by then and your confidence on the topic or reason for speaking to the person in the first place will come more naturally to you.


  1. These are all great ideas! Networking can be tough, but one does have to expect to work hard and also get out of their comfort zone :)

    All the Cute

    1. Thanks Amber! You're right about having to expect to work hard and leave your comfort zone otherwise networking events will be a waste of time since you won't get much out of them. Hope you're having a great week!


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