Etiquette Series- Tip for Handling Networking Events

Tips from Area Legal Professionals

Remembering names:  Advice given to me:  when meeting someone, as you are shaking their hand, repeat their name three times in your head (not out loud!).

General approach:  Remember when you approach someone at one of these events—it’s not always about YOU.  If is possible, act more like a gracious host than a guest.  Help others to socialize and make connections if you can– put people together.

 How to I make small talk—I am terrible at it?  

1. Prepare with “high energy questions:” – “What do you do?”  “What do you love most about it?”  Most people love to talk about themselves, but not all.  Be prepared to talk about yourself, too. 

2. Stick to polite, neutral conversation that makes everyone feel comfortable (no controversial, personal, health related topics). 

3. Be genuine and truthful.  Being generally curious about people helps. 

4. Do not assume that just because we are in Utah, that everyone is of the predominant religion. 

5. Come prepared with current event topics as backup. 

6. If there is a speaker, you could ask:  What did you think of the speaker?  What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned to this point at this event/conference?  You can go the personal route – when you are not (being a lawyer, running your business) what do you like to do?  Find a connection.

7. Seek out and find a specific person.  When the conversation ends, move on.  Thank the person for their time, tell them how nice it was to meet them/talk with them.  If you have trouble getting away, try this – ask them if they know (name of person).  If they do, ask if they have seen this person at the event.  If they don’t know person, tell them that you wanted to make it a point to connect with them before the event was over.

8. Asking for advice—do this. Simply ask in a high energy way. “What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were just starting out?”  This applies when you are talking to someone not in your given field as well…. Everyone starts somewhere, and you may find you are interested in something you hadn’t previously considered.

9. Asking about job opportunities directly can be iffy at non-recruiting events (If it is a recruiting event, then ask!)  If you know that the person you are speaking with is involved with recruiting, you can/should ask.  However, if they are not, they may be off-put by an inquiry.  You will just have to feel this one out. 

10. If you are at a networking event and you are expecting a phone call, let the person you are speaking with know that you may need to take a personal phone call during the time you are with them.  When the call comes in, politely excuse yourself and take the call.