How to work a room

16 September 2011 -


New research indicates that managers are keen to focus on networking. So what are the key dos and don’ts? Ben Walker reports

A good networking event can open up a whole host of opportunities for you and your organisation. Your job is to find them.

But how?

Business-related social events are a potential minefield. How do you strike a balance between working a room and being polite? When does networking stray into socialising? And, does it matter?

Here are five key networking tips:

1. Play to your strengths

Choose an approach that suits you. If you’re naturally sociable, use that to your benefit. Pick which of the three effective networker types you are nearest to and work towards being the best of that class.

2. Be brief about your business

A friend who, when asked what he did for a living, spent scores of words and a number of minutes explaining it. I suggested he simply say transport consultant and he found that easier. So did the people he met.

3. Make your publicity material shine

Business cards are like a shop window. If they’re tatty, unclear or poorly designed, then you are unlikely to get many customers. Similarly, if you insist on giving people handouts, make sure they are brief, clear, uncluttered – and attention-grabbing.

4. Be selective

If you attended every event going, you’d never have time for anything else. All events are not created equal, so choose the best ones and be honest about whether you’re likely to get any benefit from them.

5. Listen to others

Remember that networking events are as much about hearing from others as them hearing from you. Don’t be afraid to keep quiet at times – you might pick up nuggets from others that can help your organisation.

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