Friday, January 15, 2010


I have been to a lot of networking events throughout my career and I have to say, "they work." For those who haven't been to a networking event, they are events organized for people to connect and find others. Networking events can occur at any time: in the morning, over lunch or in the evening during weekdays and weekends and they come in many forms: a breakfast, a lunch, in a hallway, a meeting or at a planned event. In addition, some networking events have themes - a social, dating, or professional.

The Seattle Chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals hold monthly professional networking events lasting about 2 hours, typically on the first Friday of every month all around Seattle. If you haven't yet attended one of them, I invite you to go and if you're willing, then try out these professional networking tips. We also provide social networking opportunities, but I'll focus on professional networking in this post.

Here are my professional networking tips.

Tip 1. Have a purpose and a plan when you go to a networking event.
When you go into a room filled with people you are going to talk to a lot of people: those you haven't met before, acquaintances, regular networkers, friends, hiring managers, recruits, customers and suppliers. Knowing this resource exists in one place is definitely an opportunity!

Where do you start? Prior to the event, plan your goals. Is it to meet a hiring manager? Volunteers for your project? Or new clients? Include in your plan a number, too. Are you going to talk to 50%, 80% or 100% of the people in the room? This up front planning will make the event worthwhile and will help you time each interaction. At the end of the networking event review your plan. Did you achieve your networking goal? If not, assess what you will do the next time.

Tip 2. Start a conversation with a question.
When you find someone to talk to. Look them in the eye, extend out your hand and with a smile say, "Hello. I'm (your name). May I come talk to you?" Or you can follow up and say, "It's nice to meet you. What is it you're here for?" You'd be surprised that once you inquire about the person you are talking to, they open up. This leads to more dialog and possibly the information you're looking for. Being prepared will only have you asking the right questions and if being asked, then having the right answers. In addition, you might have handy a 30-second introduction or elevator speech to break the ice.

Tip 3. Contribute to the conversation
This is the best part of networking. Hearing other people stories can be fun. Be engaged in the conversation and focused with the person you are having the conversation with. Ask questions about them. People are willing to share about themselves. Let them.

Conversations are a two way street. People are networking too. Be willing to give someone the information they need. When you share information, this makes you valuable and people will likely want to talk with you.

Tip 4. Come prepared with a calling card.
This is usually a business card with information to connect with you. These are exchanged between parties at a networking event. You might ask for their card or you may be asked for your card at the event, so have them with you. I find them particularly useful at remembering people because people often customize them. They also help remember people after the event as you might have collected a lot of them.

Tip 5. Time each interaction.Events aren't forever. You might have only an hour and you want to make the most out of your time, so as part of your plan, you have to break up the total time of the event with the number of people you want to meet. This means that you'll have to be standing so it's easy to move about. When you're sitting it's easy to get comfortable and sit in one spot. This is a pitfall, so watch out for it.

Tip 6. End a conversation graciouslyEven if you're having fun, if you're time's up, be disciplined and end the conversation. Be gracious and excuse yourself and intend to follow up. And then when you get home, follow up.
To end a conversation you can say this for example, "please excuse me. I have to move on and continue networking. I enjoyed our conversation and I will follow up with you by (date)."

Tip 7. Start over again with the next person.
Tip 8. After the event, follow up.
If you received business cards from your network, you can use a card scanner and upload them onto your computer. You will be able to manage your contacts and add them to you online social networks. If you receive a follow up with any of your contacts, then continue the conversation if it is appropriate to do so.

See you at our next networking event!

Gil Gido
NAAAP Seattle

Additional Information

Get Business cards:
Get a card scanner:
Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! (Paperback):

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