Networking Like a Pro

First impressions are lasting impressions and you only get one chance to make a first impression so you better make it count. Here are some practical tips you can use whether making a presentation, making introductions, or conducting daily business.

A firm handshake
I personally get a bit perturbed whenever I extend my hand to someone in an attempt to shake their hand and they in turn give me a wet noodle. I often wonder to myself does this person have a phobia about germs? Do they think that I have some contagious disease? What is the problem?

Like it or not we are sometimes judged by the quality of our handshake, especially in the business community. No one ever teaches us how to properly shake hands. My parent’s didn’t, and I’m sure their parent’s didn’t teach them. We all assume (and some of us get it right) that during the course of our lifetime we will learn how to properly shake hands.

A proper handshake is firm but not bone crushing. The hand may or may not be pumped. If you choose the pump method no more than two pumps please. We’re not trying to draw water from the well here. Promptly release the hand. In some cultures holding on to the hand for an extended period of time is a taboo, especially between men and women. It can be perceived as a flirtatious invitation. Always remember to make eye contact.

Working the room

The whole point of networking and attending networking events is to meet people, and make contacts with people who may be able to help you in your business. It serves no purpose if you go to the event and hang out at the bar or buffet table. You need to circulate. Join in on conversations of interest to you. Introduce yourself to someone. Hi, my name is Jane Doe, and this is what I do. How are you? Simple and straight to the point.

Don’t spend all your time talking to one person or group of people the entire evening. If you meet someone that you’d really like to talk to more in depth exchange business cards and set up a meeting for another day.

Business card savvy

It’s our natural impulse to want to hand out your business card to as many people as possible whenever possible. Resist the urge. While it’s true that you should never pre-judge or discount anyone as a potential contact or client it’s also good practice to be selective when it comes to who you give your business card to. Joe over their in the corner may be charming but if he keeps calling you for things other than business then you’ve got a whole other set of problems on your hands.

I personally have several different sets of business cards that I use, and it depends on where I’m going and who I’m meeting with which card I will use. I have a formal corporate type card, a casual elegant type card, and a playful type card. I have also recently incorporated using calling cards. They are slightly larger than a standard business card and less expensive. The larger size gives more room on the back for making notes.

Goal Setting

Whenever you’re going to a networking event make mental preparation ahead of time about what your goals are for the day. Decide how many contacts you want to make, and what you hope to accomplish by attending this event? Once at the event don’t waste time making conversation with contacts you know will:

  • not be useful to you, and
  • you really don’t want to do business with

You want to spend your time with and give your card to the people who can be the most to helpful to you in the advancement of your business.

Nametag Placement

While doing the research for this article I stumbled upon this tip which is something that I’ve never thought of but once I did it made perfect sense to me so I decided to include it as one of the tips.

At any event where a nametag is used I usually place my nametag on my upper left shoulder. I always wondered why it seemed so awkward for people to read. I thought it was because my first name is unusual. That may very well be true but I never considered the fact that our eyes naturally follow the hand that does the shaking. So, if you’re facing someone and you extend your right hand, and they in turn extend to you their right hand, you eyes will naturally follow in that direction, which is to the right, which leads to the upper right shoulder. Did you know that? So, always place your nametag on your upper right shoulder.

The 60 Second Rule

Once you get past the introductions you’ve got sixty seconds to tell this person about yourself and what it is you do. They don’t want to hear about your life, your problems, your kids, or your aches and pains. This is your sixty seconds of fame. Write down your top ten career/business highlights. Pick out what’s most important to you or what you want to capitalize on about yourself and your business. Hello, my name is ABC and I do XYZ. Practice saying it out loud (with a timer if necessary) until it sounds natural and unrehearsed.

Hope these tips are helpful.


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