Cool calm and collected – because you’re a networking pro!

March 11, 2016 - Posted by Aesthetic

Networking. The word can evoke an obtrusive tremor within even the most outgoing of us. Why is that? What are we afraid of? Last time I checked, no-one tends to suffer great physical harm from such an occasion. In my experience, the fear comes from a certain pressure associated with the word. Whether its self-imposed or an expectation from others, there seems to be an innate reservation about ones ability to ‘successfully network’.

It’s time to stop the madness.

I’ve got some easy to implement tips to help ease the pressure, get your head straight and nail your next networking gig. Because we’re all just people, doing our best to make connections.

1. Look the part

Networking events usually sit before, during or after a working day. Before you throw on your regular work attire in the morning, take a moment to think about they types of people who will be at the event and what you want to achieve. Example: I used to work in professional services but yearned for a job in a creative agency, hence when I attended creative industry networking events my outfit took a different tone.

This plays into one of my favourite principles for networking – dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Even if you’re happy in your current job there’s always a next level (dress for that job). And we all want to make a good impression on our peers.

Look good; feel good. Remember to brush your hair. Brush your teeth. And freshen up as required. You’ll immediately find the extra spark you need to take you from work to working it!


2. Scout the location

Before commencing your commute, please make sure you know exactly where you’re going. Traffic delays or impromptu work calls and emails could see you rushing to make it for canapés, let alone that interesting speaker you’re busting to see. The last thing you want is to take a wrong turn or head to the wrong venue because you thought you knew where you were going. I’ve been that person more often than I care to admit. It makes me flustered and tires out my smartly dressed feet. Not a great start.

Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need. Even if you’ve painstakingly mapped the route on Google, I can guarantee traffic will suck or your train won’t come. Nobody needs this stress before entering a room full of strangers.

3. Take a breath

You made it! Before you rush in to ‘bag’ a seat, take a few seconds to shake off your PT ride or your eight-hour day at work. Remember why you’re here and what you want to achieve. Smile. Now go for it.


4. Balance your belly

Most networking events provide delicious treats. It can be a great distraction for nerves or even a conversation starter. Just be careful that you don’t count on food (or alcohol for that matter) to get you through the night. Have a snack beforehand in case the canapés are few and far between. You don’t want to get light-headed on your wine because the sausage rolls run out before they reach you. It’s also best to keep the booze below your average social function. Depending on the length of the event, one or two is fine, but nobody wants to be ‘that’ person in what is essentially a business setting.

5. Ditch the rules and go with your gut

You’ve probably read or heard all kinds of tips on the best ways to network. How to approach groups, what to do if you’re alone, where to stand, how to stand. They can be incredibly helpful for us shy guys or newbies to the networking world. But at the end of the day do what feels right for you in that moment.


Every event will be different. Some will present easy opportunities to start conversations, while others can appear more challenging. Be honest about why you’re there and the types of people you want to meet. Just remember to be yourself and offer a genuine interaction for your lucky new connection. Most people are there for the same reason. You are not an island!

by Meg Woolley – not quite a networking pro (but getting better)