Navigating networking events: A guide to do's and don'ts

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People from all walks of life meet at networking events. It’s beneficial to connect with people in your field, while interactions with some make you crave a bottle of wine. Let’s explore the different types of people attending these gatherings Knowing how to interact with them, and how to improve your own networking skills, will empower you to leave with many new connections made at your next networking event. 


The Name-Dropper makes it sound like they know everyone. 

  • When running into them, turn the conversation in a valuable direction. Ask questions, like “What did you learn from that interaction with [name they dropped]” or “Why did you choose to collaborate with them?”. 
  • If this is your tendency, explore what your goal is and if name-dropping is the best tactic. Only name drop when it is meaningful to the conversation or connection. Also make sure to respect the privacy of the name holder. 
  • E.g. “I actually used to work with Steve Jobs on a project back in the day. I was inspired by his commitment to his vision, how he spoke of his plans with vigor. Since then I started doing the same and have seen my business grow much faster.” 


The Business Card Ninja hands out cards faster than you can blink. 

  • When approached by a ninja, you can accept their business card and attempt to initiate conversation. If they aren’t genuinely interested, politely disengage or redirect them towards a new topic or person. 
  • If this is your approach, remember that all attendees return home with a stack of cards. Ensure yours stands out by engaging in meaningful conversation. If they’re a potential lead, ask for their card instead to take control of growing this connection. 
  • E.g. “I loved our conversation and I see potential in the alignment of our companies’ values. Could we exchange cards? I’d be curious to find out what else could come from continuing this conversation, say at my office, next Tuesday?” 


The Sales Pitcher is more interested in making a sale than establishing a connection. 

  • Redirect their pitch towards a more balanced discussion. Share your purpose for attending the event and ask open-ended questions regarding their experience or insights. If unsuccessful, introduce them to other more suitable participants. 
  • If your goal is to sell your products and services, consider attending events specifically designed to make sales. At networking events, try instead to make connections, gain information, find collaborators, or collect inspiration.  
  • Only share your services when appropriate, matching their expressed needs. If you know you’re stuff, you’ll easily sell your product whilst in conversation, rather than hashing out your regular one-fits-all pitch. E.g. “You mention a difficulty in sustainable external meeting planning. We’ve actually integrated CONVIEN’s travel algorithms into our meeting management platform to locate the best place to meet. It takes into account carbon avoidance and benefits attendees’ productivity and well-being, which you’ve said is a strong value within your company. We have a white paper out soon, shall I share it with you?” 


The Over-Sharer who dumps too much information within 5 minutes.  

  • It can be quite overwhelming to converse with someone who dumps unsolicited information. Acknowledge their points and steer the conversation towards a more valuable topic. If they seem genuinely interested in networking, suggest following up after the event to continue the in-depth conversation in an appropriate setting. 
  • You may overshare when feeling insecure or highly excited about a topic. Keep checking in if this person is still actively participating in the conversation. Do they ask follow-up questions and are they showing signs of engaged body language. If not, ask for their insights or find someone equally excited about this topic. 
  • E.g. “What are your thoughts on the matter?”, “Have you experienced something similar? I’d love to hear your advice.” 


The Wallflower tries to stay out of sight, but might be a gem. 

  • It’s a kind gesture to include people who stand alone or are glued to a corner, it can also pay off surprisingly well. They might simply dislike approaching strangers but they’re highly observant and surely have equal, if not more, insights to share. 
  • Whether you’re unsure of how to slide into another’s conversation, are shy, or simply a an introverted individual, know you’re not the only one. To make it easier, consider opening a conversation with another wallflower or a small. 
  • Wait for a pause in another’s conversations and introduce yourself briefly to the group. Acknowledge the current topic, offer a brief and relevant comment or question that adds value to the ongoing discussion. 


Then, there are some with other motives than networking. 

  • The Flirt – Trying to make a romantic connection rather than professional.  
  • The Freeloader – Mostly here for the open bar.  
  • The Laugher: You hear them before you see them, looking to entertain the crowd.  
  • The Scanner: Only here to check out the competition.  
  • The Know-It-All: Showing off their knowledge and feel better than the rest.  


You’ll run into many more. If an event is filled with these types consider providing feedback to the event organizers. They may take steps to ensure a more balanced networking environment in the future. However, each of the above types has unique potential, depending on what you're looking for in a professional relationship and how you approach the conversation. Lead by example by showing a genuine interest in others' businesses and sharing information about your own. Keep an open mind, embrace that people differ, and go with your gut. You will leave the event empowered with new valuable connections. Has this inspired you to host a network event?

Book a venue today! 

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