How to network like a pro

By Joelle Harms | Senior Digital Media Content Producer

Networking is a common approach to expanding a career, or finding one, but walking into a room of people you don’t know in a professional setting can be daunting.


Yeah, they can be awkward, but I highly suggest taking advantage of networking events. You never know when you could be in a situation where you need a new job, need help with your job or need to help someone else with a job, so it’s important to stay in touch and meet others in the industry.

Networking, or “professional socializing,” as I like to call it, is something I used to struggle with. Did I share too much? Did I get too personal? Did I talk too much business?

All of your time at networking events will be spent… networking. There usually aren’t activities at these types of events, so be prepared to talk (a lot) about yourself and your career.

One key takeaway to remember: Be confident in whichever approach fits you. Chances are, you’re overanalyzing a situation that someone else may have seen as so minute.

I’ve compiled some tips from my past experiences and research to help you network like a pro:

  • Dress to impress. Wear business or business casual clothing — a collared shirt or a blouse and no jeans.
  • Be genuine. You could end up working with someone you met or got to know at a networking event. It’s important to let your personality show.
  • Bring a business card. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised. Make sure it’s an updated card with the correct information. If you’re currently unemployed and looking for a job, make your own business card! It’s pretty cheap; just find a website that has preset templates for your to drop your contact information on and print.
  • Don’t get trapped. Don’t spend all of your time talking to only a few people. Take advantage of the event and talk to as many people as possible. Tell yourself before you walk in that you have to talk to X-amount of people. You never know what opportunity awaits you.
  • Help out other networkers. You’re not the only one looking for an opportunity, so be alert and aware that you have the possibility to help out someone else with their career.
  • Smile! If you’re like me and have a “mean mug” look even when you’re doing just fine, it’s not a bad idea to be conscious of this during networking events. Unfortunately, people make judgments on looks. From my experience, it’s better to put on a smile than give the wrong impression.

Still dreading networking? Reward yourself with some pizza on your way home. More likely than not the food was terrible anyway.