5 Do’s & Don’ts of Surviving a Networking Event

International Special Events Society - ISES

Last night, I attended a networking event for our photography company and our video production company.  It was held by the International Special Events Society (ISES) and called “Meet the Masters”.  ISES describes its purpose as:

“to foster enlightened performance through education while promoting ethical conduct”

I define it as:

“an opportunity to shmooze and try to impress a bunch of people I can hopefully get to work with me in the near future”

After arriving at the Bel-Air Bay Club, I did a casual strut into the cocktail hour, wearing my classy, yet strong ensemble of black pants and a red button-down (eh hem, flowers and frills make me feel weak and vulnerable, so solid colors and straight lines only).  But as I flung my black jacket over my arm, I looked into the crowd of 100-something people all drinking, mingling, chatting, having fun with their little name tags, I realized, “I’m alone.  I know no one.  Oh sh*t”.

Going to these networking events can be gut-wrenching, anxiety-making, flashback-to-middle-school-when-everyone-was-friends-with-everyone-except-for-you kind of feeling.  So here are the do’s and the don’ts of surviving a networking event, without vomiting, and with possibly a few business cards in your pocket at the end of the evening:


DO: Dress professionally and with class.

DON’T: Dress like you’re there to get some… unless, of course, you just want to get some.

DO: Get a beverage from the bar immediately so you have something to do while standing around, talking to no one, like a big fat loser.

DON’T: Get shnockered and make an ass out of yourself by dancing on the table with some strange guy’s tie in your teeth (and the guy still attached).

DO: Go up to the first guest at the event you see who looks like they might be enjoyable to talk to about your lines of work.

DON’T: Go up to the cute waiter with the Pigs in a Blanket and ask him how he got into his line of work, while you see how many Pigs in a Blanket you can shove into your mouth without everyone else seeing you’ve eaten all the snacks.

DO: Listen carefully when people are telling you about their business.

DON’T: Listen to the voice in your head telling you there might be a huge booger hanging out of your nose.  If there is one there, they already know it, and if you wipe, then they’ll know for the rest of the evening that you had a booger on your hand.

DO: Carry business cards with you, even when you’re going to the restroom.  You never know who you’re going to meet.

DON’T: Carry a rubber chicken around, saying “I am the Egg Man!”   Just cuz.


Needless to say, since you’re reading this blog right now, I survived the evening.  I walked up to a few strangers, stuck out my hand, and said, “I don’t know anyone here.  What do you guys do for a living?”  And it, for the most part, worked.

… But maybe they just liked my rubber chicken.



3 Responses to “5 Do’s & Don’ts of Surviving a Networking Event”

  1. 1 jaimeclewis November 19, 2010 at 12:36 am

    As a mother, I would also add “DO brush your hair and teeth before meeting strangers,” and “DON’T talk about the color of your baby’s poop at a professional event.” I seriously forget these two suggestions ALL THE TIME.

  2. 2 sc gordon November 19, 2010 at 2:17 am

    Hilarious! But also insightful.I love this blog.

  3. 3 Susanna November 19, 2010 at 9:02 am

    congrats! I’d add- strike up conversations with anyone & everyone who seems remotely friendly, it’s a great way to ease into it. tonight at mindshare I didn’t want to do the typical “So what do you do?” So after he’d asked me about myself and I’d briefly told him, I asked this guy “So tell me about you. What are you into?” Of course he replied with “I’m in (Advertising, in this case)” but we still had a nice conversation.

    Also, if you’re waiting to talk to someone important that everyone wants to talk to, go ahead and strike up conversations with other people who are waiting. It’s a pleasant way to kill time and you might meet someone even more useful. 😉

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