Ten Tips for Painless Networking

How do you sound polished at recruiting cocktail receptions? What do you talk about in small group conversations? Which hand holds the wine glass? On October 21st, the Career Services Center and the Public Speaking Club co-sponsored an event on “Painless Networking” to help students answer these and other networking questions. The event was led by etiquette consultant Jodi Smith from Mannersmith. For those who missed the workshop, here are ten tips which will help your networking efforts.

TIP #1: Nametags
ú Wear it on your right shoulder.

TIP #2: Handshakes
ú Avoid wearing jewelry on your right hand at networking events
ú Shake hands “web to web” (i.e. the skin between your thumb and pointer finger touching that of the other person’s hand)
ú Make EYE CONTACT while shaking
ú Adjust your grip to match that of the other person (i.e. stronger grip for a stronger person)
ú One to two shakes, max of three
ú Higher ranking person should extend his or her hand first, but not all people know this

TIP #3: Introductions
ú Correct the other person right away if they say your name wrong
ú The more unusual your name is, the more slowly you should say it

TIP #4: Taglines
ú After saying your name, say a “tagline” that will force the other person to ask questions of you (i.e. “Hi, I’m Jodi Smith. I teach confidence.”)
ú Tagline should fit the event and match your personality; informal taglines for informal situations, business-type taglines for business situations

TIP #5: Do your homework
ú Research who else is going to be in the room (ask the organizer)
ú Identify the relevant people you want to talk to
ú Research company websites, look at backgrounds of people
ú Eat in advance if there will just be appetizers
ú Dress appropriately (i.e. wear comfortable shoes if you will be standing the whole time)
ú Dress with pockets; have your business cards in one pocket and the ones you collect in your other pocket

TIP #6: Body language
ú Have open body language (i.e. no crossed arms, feet just less than shoulder width apart)
ú Hold your drink in your left hand

TIP #7: Eye contact
ú Match that of the other person
ú If you are shy and want to look away, ONLY look away while YOU are speaking (looks like you are thinking)

TIP #8: Conversations
ú Walk in with confidence, walk toward the bar, find a person who is not engaged in conversation, make eye contact, smile and make your introduction
ú If you are an introvert, go early so that you can start networking while the room is relatively empty
ú Conversations should last five to eight minutes, max of ten minutes
ú After the five to eight minute inflection point, you should ask for the other person’s business card or get their name and contact info
ú Try to be in conversation with one person at a time, try to avoid group conversations
ú Have three topics in mind that you are comfortable talking about (e.g. sports, politics, religion, tv shows, books)

TIP #9: Graceful exits
ú Say “It’s been a pleasure talking to you” and then physically walk to another part of the room so that you can meet new people and re-use your tagline
ú Do NOT leave saying that you have to go
a) to the washroom,
b) to the bar or
c) to talk to someone else

TIP #10: Business cards
ú When you go home that night, flip through the cards and write down the name/date of the event, as well as anything you remember about the other person
ú Use the contact information to write thank you notes (handwritten is better) or letters asking for informational interviews