Networking Like A Pro

man extending handshakeIt’s that time of the year again, when holiday parties, social events and get-togethers begin to fill our calendars. To make the most of in-person networking, try these conversation starters (or enders, if you’re trying to meet as many people as possible!):

Keep questions like these in your repertoire, so they flow naturally:

  • How long have you been a member of this group / club / association?
  • What made you decide to join?
  • What other groups / clubs / associations do you belong to?
  • How did you get started as an ______? (assuming you know what they do already)
  • What projects are you working on now?
  • If I were to refer people to your business, what should they need?
  • Have you been to this location before?
  • Have you attended other events here?

Wrapping up is often challenging, especially if the other person won’t let you come up for air. So you’ll need to do your best to exit gracefully. Whatever you do, extend a handshake before parting!

  • I need to see ____ before she leaves, it was nice meeting you.
  • Would you excuse me, I need to use the bathroom (make sure you leave the room!).
  • Before I go, could I have your card?

Things Not To Do

  • Avoid “filler” conversation, like talking about the weather, a recent sports game, etc.
  • If you’re into direct sales (like Avon or nutritional supplements), please don’t solicit new members, or gasp, try to sell your product on the spot

I hope these tips help you in your upcoming gatherings. What did I miss? What are your favorite conversation starters or enders?

Photo credit by Henkster.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit