3 Ways to Improve Your Networking Experience

The time has come for your anticipated networking event.

For the lucky few, this event is a hearty joy ride, an opportunity to share your energy and passion, and make genuine connections with people who speak your language and have a similar fire burning in their eyes.

For others, this event can be a daunting minefield, filled with lurking around, long silences and awkward small talk. And ultimately, you leave, subdued and emotionally exhausted, having extracted no value and leaving with nothing, apart from the slightly sour taste of mediocre wine…If this sounds like you, then fret no longer, we have some simple tools to help you squeeze every drop of flavour from the networking event, and leave feeling pretty damn good about yourself to boot!


1 - Make The Individual You Speak To Feel Important

2 - Be Prepared To Share Your Unique Qualities

3 - Be Mindful Of Your Non Verbal Communication

1 - Make The Individual You Speak To Feel Important

Firstly, you’d want to find out what makes the individual you’re talking to tick. Treat each conversation like a treasure hunt, where your mission is to find the beautiful jewel within the individual you’re talking to. Your networking anxiety will gradually recede as you focus less constantly on yourself, and more on others.

Remember that this treasure chest is difficult to find. The more open questions you ask, the more paths you uncover which will allow you to find the individual’s ‘jewel’ more easily.


Let’s take an example of a networking conversation below, between Joe (an author), and Adrian (a publisher). The first conversation has closed questions - and the chat goes precisely nowhere! The second is full of open questions, and very quickly ventures into more interesting territory. 

Conversation 1

Adrian: I had a tough commute today

Joe: What did you take? Train or bus?

Adrian: Train

Joe: Right

Conversation 2: 

Adrian: I had a tough commute today

Joe: Really! Commutes can be annoying. What made it so difficult today then?

Adrian: There was an engine failure, the conductor said it was a 20-minute delay. I was crammed next to a couple of young kids who were chatting loudly about their social media antics…

Joe: Young people on social media - I genuinely feel that they need more focus on face to face communication skills than ever

Adrian: Me too! - as a matter of fact I have been writing an article about the impact of social media on young people’s brain development…(and you’re off)

Which conversation sounds more intriguing?

The second one, of course. By asking an open question, you’re more likely to receive an answer that can be drawn into a more valuable moment with whomever you’re networking with. 

By using this ‘treasure hunt tool’ when approaching a conversation, you are more likely to  understand the individual’s values, motions and drivers which in turn will help you form a better connection with the individual that you're networking with.

2 - Be Prepared To Share Your Unique Qualities

It’s important to offer valuable stories from your perspective as well. Remember, as daunting as this can be, this is a networking event, not a press conference. The stakes are low - and people simply want to connect with other ‘real’ people. So be up for sharing stuff that matters to you, that’s the juice that people are looking for. 

This ‘stuff that matters’ can include your desires, your unique perspectives, your feelings, and your values. See where that takes you. 

Let’s apply this to a different conversation, in particular look at Joe’s last responses. 

Adrian: I’m having trouble getting this article published.

Joe: Why so?

Adrian: The publishing house is very careful about not alienating the younger readers. 

Joe: That is annoying

Adrian: I’m having trouble getting this article published.

Joe: Why so?

Adrian: The publishing house is very careful about not alienating the younger readers. 

Joe: I think some companies are so overly cautious about offending anyone that they are almost limiting their own freedom of speech and expression. I recently spent time with a remarkable South American philosopher, one of the things that made him so fascinating was just how fresh and unfiltered he was. 

Adrian: Oh that’s fascinating! What were you doing?

Note how Joe brings a valuable point to the conversation, and embeds it well into the flow. He anchors to Adrian’s theme of  “South America”, evidencing both his careful listening skills , whilst immediately creating intrigue in Adrian.

3 - Be Mindful Of Your Non Verbal Communication

Beyond the focus on what you say, your networking confidence can be enhanced by being aware of having a warm open face and body language throughout the event. 

Having deliberately open, warm and welcoming body language can instantly make you feel more confident. Take a look at both pictures below. Which individual one looks more welcoming?

Probably the gentleman on the right. This really comes down to 4 aspects:

  1. Eyes: His eyes are warm, in joy, whereas the man on the left has his eyes hooded and looking down.
  2. Face: His face is looking straight at the individual he is talking to. His attention is his token of interest, one which the man on the left struggles to show.
  3. Mouth: There is a visible smile on the suited gentleman
  4. Hands: His arms are released, palms are open, although one is holding the cup. An easy trick to avoid hands in pockets is to have a drink in one!  The other is cross-armed, as if he has something to hide. 

Reflect that feeling in yourself when you are having a networking event

So there you go! I hope you found these 3 ways to improve your networking experience useful. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please do subscribe to our newsletter where you can get more tips and tricks from the Serlin Method. 

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