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The Art of Networking: A Step by Step Guide


MPI Toronto On February 5, 2018

Art of Networking Image of Two People Shaking Hands

Networking: the necessary evil that puts us all out of our comfort zone, but yields great rewards if done correctly.  And with the start of a new year, you might have new goals that require you to brush up on your networking skills.

How can one master this “art” and use it to advance themselves professionally as well as personally?

Over my professional career I’ve been able to put into practice many tips and tricks that have proven to be successful. 

Here’s how you can take your networking game to the next level:

Step 1: Go For It

Let’s face it, we’re terrified of taking the first step. Whether you’re new to the industry, trying to grow your business or promoting your personal brand, relationship building is at the forefront of what we do as humans. Face to face interaction is invaluable, and you will never get better at networking if you don’t just GO FOR IT… so, go to that event, parent meeting or business summit. 

Step 2: Spark Conversations

Once at the event, don’t be “that person” who stands by themselves and stays away from people. You’re not setting yourself up for successful connections.

If you don’t know anyone, find commonalities to spark a conversation: Compliment someone’s outfit, crack a joke, or simply have the courage to approach that table and join the conversation by introducing yourself. Most people will gladly welcome you into their circle. 

Step 3: Be “Elevator Ready”

At any given time, be prepared to deliver your elevator pitch. When someone asks “What do you do?”, your objective is to introduce yourself clearly, concisely and in a memorable way.

In return, ask questions and try to learn about others.

Step 4: Listen

Make sure you are actively engaged in the conversations. No one wants to talk to someone who is constantly interrupting and only talking about themselves. Practice these listening tips: 

Repeat what they are saying in your head so you remember.
 

  • Ask for clarification or follow up questions.
  • Pause and let them finish before changing topics.
  • Look at them in the eyes. Don’t let your gaze be distracted by the environment.

Step 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away

You had a great chat (or perhaps not so great) and you would like to move on to meet someone else – that is perfectly okay. Just because you connected with someone doesn’t mean you are married to them for the evening. Find a polite way to excuse yourself and/or be upfront and let them know it was a pleasure meeting them, and that you are trying to meet some additional new faces throughout the evening. 

Step 6: Follow Up

If you truly enjoyed the conversation and wish to continue the relationship, why not send that person an email thanking them for their time? You could also connect with them through LinkedIn or other social media channels. 

Bonus Tips!
  • If you make a great connection with one person, don’t be afraid to “buddy up” and ask them to introduce you to others in the room. 
  • If you have a hard time remembering names, don’t think about what you are going to say next when someone introduces themselves. Simply pause and listen to their name, then repeat their name in your head a few times and use it in a sentence such as: “Mike, Nice to meet you Mike” – and find additional ways to use it in conversation. 
  • Find something memorable about the people you meet and associate that to their face. If you ever meet them at an event again, you will be able to recall your previous interaction and you will look like a networking expert!

Mariella Irivarren, B.A., CMP is an award-winning event professional and Event Manager for BMO Financial Group, Through active involvement in professional associations and volunteer committees, Mariella has a strong desire to help others succeed in the events industry. Say hi to her on Twitter @mirivarren or follow her on Instagram @mformariella.
 

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