Networking Effectively

We underestimate how much we'll enjoy meeting new people and how much other people will like us.

  • Research suggests that we tend to see the world in anxiety-drenched ways that cause us to avoid social situations that would be fun, educational, and rewarding.  And it turns out that both “introverts” and “extroverts” tend to systematically underestimate how much we’ll both enjoy – and learn from - even short, casual social encounters like networking. 
  • Part of this is because we attend so closely to how we’re “performing.”  But research suggests that when you’re engaged in conversations like this, people are not primarily thinking about how competent you are.  They’re thinking about your warmth.  Do you seem friendly and kind? 
  • It also might help to keep this piece of research in mind:  Other people tend to like us more than we think they do; researchers call this the “liking gap.”  So, you could even start by assuming people will like you and go from there!  

Check out these tips on networking in person that will help you make the most of your networking experience.

Tips for networking in person

Have a networking event coming up? Browse these tips to make the most of your networking experience.

  • Have a goal. Such as, speak to 3 people for at least 6 sentences.
  • Arrive early. It's easier to start conversations with people who've just arrived.
  • Have open body language. Keep your arms uncrossed and make eye contact to make it easier for people to approach you.
  • Smile! Smiling can signal a friendly connection to others.
  • Look for other people who are alone. Walk up and introduce yourself to them.
  • Start with a question. Ask about something you both have in common.
  • Ask more questions. Questions keep the conversation going.
  • Start making industry friends. Think about how you can make a friendship-like connection with new contacts.
  • Take notes. After you're done talking, write down where you met, what you talked about, and something they mentioned that you can follow up on.
  • Send a "nice to meet you" email or connect on LinkedIn. You never know when you'll need to reach out again.