You now know some tips for preparing for networking events. Here is some advice on what to do during the event.

  1. Get the lay of the land. Scan the room to see how the event flows (food, drinks, speaker, etc.) to determine where you want to be and sit.
  2. Seek out the leaders. Find the president, event chair or a board member and introduce yourself. Ask for help getting introduced. Saying, “I’m new here,” makes people want to reach out to you.
  3. Study badges. Ask about someone’s badge, especially if the attendee’s badge has a special ribbon or pin designating his or her involvement in the group.
  4. Be friendly. Get in the drink line and strike up a conversation with the person next to you. Approach someone who’s standing alone. That person may end up being the best contact you meet.
  5. Be curious. Ask an introductory question about a person’s company or title. “Tell me about [company name]. What is your role there?”
  6. Don’t sell too hard. Describe what you do and how it helps your customers, then back off.
  7. Listen more than you speak. Focus on the person you’re conversing with, not on your sales pitch. Ask good questions and be a great listener.
  8. Be prepared. Carry your business cards in your pocket or a case you can easily and smoothly reach.
  9. Keep moving. To disengage from someone, politely excuse yourself by saying, “I just saw someone come in I need to connect with. It was great meeting you.”

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing, a consulting firm in Cleveland, that provides marketing strategy and creative services to business-to-business and consumer marketers. Fianfagna has been creating and implementing marketing communications plans and programs for more than 30 years. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.