Updated: Oct 24, 2018
Once you’re in your networking situation, here’s what to do:
Read the room. Adapt your approach to casual, formal, friendly, somber, and other moods. Your tone of voice, the way you address people and introduce yourself, even the kind of words you choose – all need to match.
Take a friend – or not. Sometimes it’s good to have a “wing” man or woman – someone who can introduce you around, or include you in conversations. If you do take someone, be sure you don’t only hang out with them, and that they don’t hold you back in some way (from meeting the people you want and from being yourself.)
Don’t hang out only with people you know. You are there to form new relationships and expand your network.
Take a pen and notepad, or some other way to capture names, notes and ideas that might be helpful to you later.
Project enthusiasm and energy. Don’t act as if you’ve been dragged there as a punishment. What you project you will get back from others.
Befriend the well connected. Know people who know a lot of people. They will introduce you to more people than you could dream of.
Find someone standing alone, and start a conversation with them. This is a good way to enter an event.
Food and bar lines are great places to strike up conversations, as well.
If you are in a conference or a long event, take breaks to give yourself time to recharge. This will make your networking time more productive.
Follow up with the people high on your priority list. Make sure your networking time leads to real relationships.