Three people talking at a networking event

Networking can be an awkward experience even for the well-initiated. Here are 22 quick tips to freshen up your networking skills and make it more fun and fruitful:

  1. Set yourself networking goals — e.g. “I will meet 5 new people tonight” or “I want to have a meaningful conversation with John Smith”
  2. Take a buddy with you if you are uncomfortable flying solo
  3. Lineups are a great place to start a conversation. Entry, food, drinks, washrooms—if you see a line, join it!
  4. Topping up your food or drink is a great way to exit  a conversation
  5. To break into a group discussion, casually make eye contact and wait for someone to acknowledge you either verbally or with their body language
  6. Commenting on the room, food, speaker etc. are easy icebreakers
  7. Have your elevator pitch down pat, but customize it to the audience
  8. Ask open-ended questions
  9. Read up on current events and relevant industry news for conversation points
  10. Introduce yourself to the organizer, they’re usually valuable connectors!
  11. Offer to volunteer with the organizer (a great way to get more exposure within a group)
  12. Try lots of different groups before settling on the ones that best align with your goals
  13. Networking is a continual effort; going to only one event will reap little reward
  14. If you’re stuck with a “clinger,” introduce them to someone else and then move on
  15. Don’t be a “clinger”
  16. See someone by themselves? Be the hero and introduce yourself
  17. Think broadly about your network—you may not be able to immediately help the person you’re talking to, but someone in your network might (and vice versa)
  18. Exit conversations politely: “It was great talking with you, but I still have a few other people to meet. If we don’t connect later, it was a pleasure to meet you!”
  19. Write notes on the back of people’s business cards to help you remember them
  20. Accept business cards and/or add each other to LinkedIn
  21. Be prompt with follow-ups, whether via email, LinkedIn or a phone call
  22. Set up your next steps to move the relationship forward—e.g. coffee meeting or an invitation to another event

Best of luck out there!