22 Tips To Use at a Networking Event


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Networking events have been part of the business and social scene for as long as anyone can remember. For many people, they make a trip to the dentist seem fun. For others, networking events are enjoyable, but because of who they have to spend time with, they wish they had scheduled a visit to the dentist.

Regardless of your feelings on the subject, when attending an event, it’s important to have the perspective that your goal should be to help others first. Unfortunately, it’s an old cliché that is often left at the door. The next time you’re headed to an event, keep in mind the following simple, helpful rule: after it’s all said and done, you want to have earned the right, privilege, honor, and respect to be able to meet with them again. This is not a license to sell yourself, but an opportunity to build a relationship.

– When you arrive at a networking event, avoid gravitating to people you know. You should initially thank the host and then immediately find someone new to introduce yourself to. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind as to why you came.

– Stop selling and start listening! When you meet someone for the first time, use it as an opportunity to get to know them. Don’t try to sell them anything. Rather, begin to establish a relationship.

– Keep your business cards in the breast pocket of your coat, a shirt pocket, or in an outside pocket of your purse so they are easy to access and in good condition.

– When giving a person your card, personalize it by hand writing your cell number on it. This will cause the recipient to feel that they are receiving something special.

– When giving or receiving a business card, be especially careful when dealing with people from outside the US as many cultures treat them with very high regard.

– When receiving a card from someone, take a moment to write yourself a note on it such as where you met. If you do this while you’re still talking to the person, it will help convey your sense of personal connection.

– During the course of a conversation, use the other person’s first name two or three times. People always like to hear their own name and it will help you to remember it when the discussion is over.

– Rather than telling a new contact all about yourself, spend your time asking them questions. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn!

– After you meet someone for the first time, use the back of their business card to jot a note about something you learned from the conversation and the date and place you met them. Recording the information will give you something to talk to them about the next time you see them.

– Connect with the person you’re talking to by tilting your head as you listen to them. It is an effective body language technique which communicates that you’re paying attention to what they’re saying.

– When a person is talking to you, be sure to look directly at them. Giving a person full attention with your eyes will encourage them to share more.

– When giving someone eye contact, remember it’s not a “stare-down” contest. Give the person 3 – 5 seconds of eye contact and then look away briefly before returning your focus to them again.

– The best location to network is by a high-traffic area such as a main door, the bar, or near the food.

– Never approach someone if they are walking towards the restroom or if they have a phone in their hand. Wait until they have returned to the networking area or put their phone away.

– After the person has shared something with you, ask them another question about what they just said. This shows that you’re paying attention and that you care about what they’re telling you.

– Always keep one hand free to allow yourself to shake hands with people. This means that you shouldn’t eat and drink at the same time. Remember, you’re there to network, not eat a full-course meal.

– As a way of demonstrating your networking skills, introduce each new person you meet to at least one other person.

– Never try to barge into a group of 4 or more people. Come along side of the group, but do not attempt to enter into the discussion until you’ve made eye contact with everyone and a minimum of two other people in the group have said something.

– Do not approach two people who are talking, as you may be interrupting an important discussion.

– Initiate conversation with someone who is standing by themselves. They’ll be happy to have someone to talk to them and, as a result, will many times open up with valuable information.

– When you meet someone for the first time, you have 48 hours to follow up with them before they will completely forget about meeting you.

– A networking event is not a time to see how many business cards you can acquire. Rather, it is a time to develop a few relationships that have potential.

Mark Hunter
Mark Hunter, "The Sales Hunter," is a sales expert who speaks to thousands of people each year on how to increase their sales profitability. For more information or to receive a free weekly sales tip via email, contact "The Sales Hunter" at www.TheSalesHunter.com.


  1. Since I view business and lifestyle relationships as an art form and social networking as a metaphor for dollar earning prostitution, so your tip list is quite refreshing because it demonstrates to me that social networking with great discipline and skill can also become an art form.

    So your tips are spot on – if I brush up on them I won’t feel like I am entering a cocktail zoo and the change to my psyche will erode my so starkly outlined prejudice about focusing on the icky factor; yet it will still take me a little while reframing seeing networking as nothing more than hell one goes to when their is no stairway to the heaven of referrals.

    Even in the social software space, what is a central criteria but how many “hits” you get. Furthermore it is really difficult remaining a rebel in this day and age when social media perpetuates a new social narcissism.

    So you are wise to reframe the situation and extend being professional to all aspects of ones life. I think the point about listening is the hardest one to master because the world gives plenty of awards to speakers but zero to listeners – and while networking with people you do not know is a whole different ball game than fostering life-time or long-term business relationships, at least you have guided me today to recognize that networking events are not a subset of the animal kingdom and nor are they a second hand car lot. (Yes I know, better to reframe the situation immediately so one day I might stop calling a spade a spade and call it being holistic).

    As Monty Python would say, it is good to see the bright side of life and a touch of the resulting personal humility is an intelligent outcome. Now I will get back to reading the books on having candor, retaining a sense of humor and living authentically and balance all of that with what is essentially your tips to be more a tad more socially intelligent and exhibiting the zen of networking.


  2. Mark,

    Thanks for such a thoughtful list. It is easy to think you have a polished approach to networking and fall back on selling. I recommend people make a copy of your list and review it before getting into a networking situation.

    To me, you main point is summed in the last phrase of point #2 -begin to establish a relationship.

    Your advice is directed at keeping people from being self-centered. We need to be reminded of this. But, relationship require sharing and a getting to know each other. If everyone used your list literally the conversations would be one-sided in the other direction.

    I would like to hear your tips for creating a real dialog when the other person uses your tips on you. How does one facilitate a the back and forth involved necessary for both parties to get to know about each other?


    John I. Todor, Ph.D.
    Author of Addicted Customers: How to Get Them Hooked on Your Company.


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