25 Live Networking Tips

by Rich DeMatteo on October 4, 2011 · 36 comments

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Maybe it’s just lately, but it really does seem like career bloggers (myself included) are writing mostly about the social web 2.0 side of networking.  Today we’re taking a break from Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and others so that I can share 25 tips for  Live Networking

1.  Use social networking to locate live networking events in your area.  Through following/friending influential people in your industry/location, connect with them and find out where live networking events take place.  (Okay, that was somewhat 2.0 focused).

2.  If you’re new to live networking, bring a friend, co-worker, or classmate to the event with you.  Use your first event as practice for future events.

3.  Set up goals for each event.  An example would be to set a goal to talk to at least 3 people for each event.

4.  Try to keep your phone in your pocket for the duration of the event.  During those awkward times when you aren’t talking to someone, try to avoid bringing the phone out.  The exception of this is when you make a connection and exchange numbers.

5.  Try to find people at the event who are in the same industry/field as you.  Find out what they’ve done to be successful so that you can mimic that in your job search or for your business.

6.  Firm handshake, please.  Remember to shake someones hand like you’ve been waiting your whole life to meet them.  I know…dramatic, but it works.

7.  Always have personal or business cards on you.  Potential employers will be impressed that you’ve developed a card just for your job search.

8.  Sign up to work the event for free.  Events like this are always looking for front desk folks to help them pass out information to attendees.  This is kind of the perfect job, because you’re able to meet every attendee before the event starts.

9.  Listen.  Every extrovert needs an introvert.  If you aren’t a big talker, just offer up an ear, and later in the conversation you’ll have your time to share.

10.  Find your “power topic” and join the conversation.  If you hear a couple people or a group of people talking about a strong interest or expertise of yours, walk on over and find a way to get into the conversation.  Pop an “excuse me, were you guys talking about …..?”  Then ask to join in and I’d be shocked if they said no.

11.  When you receive business cards from recruiters or interesting people, write something on their business cards to help you remember them.  Maybe they are bald like me, write baldy.  Maybe they are crazy tall, write tall.  Just think of something to help you remember the person.

12.  Ask thought provoking questions.  Think of the big picture.  Don’t ask a new connection a series of small questions.  It’s a networking event so they’d like to talk to as many people as possible.  Ask a big picture question that gets them thinking and forces them to remember you.

13.  Have a drink.  Don’t get wasted.

14.  Dress slick and groom yourself.  Enough said.

15.  If you’re able to use online tools to find out who’s going to the event, find out who from the event went to the same college or high school as you.  Things like this are perfect for ice breakers and establishing a connection early.

16.  Everyone wants something at a networking event.  Find out what people want, and offer to help them first before asking for their help.  If you aren’t able to help, then at least you asked.

17.  Stay until the end if you can.

18.  Know your 30 second elevator speech, a short statement that explains who you are, what you do, and what makes you different from other people (job seekers).

19.  Connect with the event organizer.  This is huge.  They are normally the “popular” crew and can help introduce you to influential people and keep you aware of the next event they organize.

20.  Keep your resume at home.  Resumes are for job fairs, not networking events.

21.  Smile.  Can’t say this enough.  Either while talking to people or standing alone, remember to cheese it up.

22.  Need a breather?  Go take a quick walk outside.  Others will be doing the same thing and continuing their networking in a less formal environment.  Think about how smokers at office buildings become friends.  Same idea.

23.  Have fun with it and add some personality.  Speaking all business isn’t always the best approach.  People typically have a lot of fun with networking.  Laugh, joke, share funny stories, and connect with people.

24.  Exchange contact information at the event.  Get their LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

25.  Follow-up with people.  Even if their a recruiter at a company you want to work for, your follow-up shouldn’t be all business.  Ask if they’re attending any events soon and let them know you’d like to catch up over drinks or dinner again sometime.

Andddddd go!   Remember, networking should be fun!

Need more focused help?  See the Get a Job! section up top and I’ll be happy to put together a networking plan for you!

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Migdalia Gonzalez
Migdalia Gonzalez

This is really great Rich! I always get so nervous and feel uncomfortable during networking events. I'm really good with talking to people and if they approach me 1st I'm always golden. But I am so bad at just walking up to people and introducing myself. I'll def keep these in mind during the Social Media Plus conference though! Thanks! @dalia_atalstin


Rich, I am working on networking with people in my industry who went to the same school as me. I have done research, targeted these specific people, and sent my cover letter and resume- all very professional with labels. The opening line of the cover letter indicates I am also a graduate of the school they attended. I have their direct line phone numbers, and that conversation will be the most important part of the contact, but I'm wondering what you would suggest I could do with my envelope to insure they read my letter. Should I put a "Personal" label somewhere on the envelope, or is what I've done so far enough? Thanks


I think the post important tip you pointed out was following up. You can lose out on so many great opportunities if you don't master the art of follow up. Great tips!

Mark Anthony Dyson
Mark Anthony Dyson

Love the practical approach here, I think you covered everything here Rich. A networking book I read recently said to, "...network for life, not just for now." It's a way of life, not a patch sewn on a pair of jeans. Your tips will help promote the lifestyle of networking.


Thanks for these tip, Rich! It's so important to learn to network online and offline. Job seekers need to be ready to network in any form. Jessica Take the Interview http://taketheinterview.com/ @taketheview "Making the hiring process more efficient."

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Dave - Thanks for your comment and question. I think what you've done is more than enough. The targeted approach is perfect. Where have you done the research? Linkedin?

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Christina- Thanks for your comment. Yeah, follow up is huge! Great add!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Jessica - Thanks for your comment on this!