By Jami Miedema

As a business major at a local university, I’ve been to my fair share of seminars, social events, and development activities aimed to help students transition into the professional sphere.  While the information I’ve learned is of value, I’ve had limited opportunities to put it in action.  Recently, I attended a seminar called “How to Work a Room.”  Instead of listening to a lecture, the participants were given pointers, and then we were able to practice our skills by “working the room.”  I found this exercise beneficial, and I’m confident the knowledge I’ve gained can be utilized at business conferences and economic events.

Many seasoned veterans may already know all the tricks of networking at large social gatherings, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of a few key strategies.

  1. Be prepared – Know your objectives.  Dress appropriately.  Bring business cards, a pen, and mints.
  2. Practice your introduction – Use a firm handshake.  Look your new acquaintance in the eyes.  Offer your name and a fun fact about yourself that pertains to your purpose for attending the event.
  3. Work the room – Exude enthusiasm.  Make an effort.  Be energized.
  4. Plan an exit – There are many people and limited time.  Don’t get stuck talking to one person.
  5. Be courteous – Allow others to join your conversation.  When receiving a business card, glance it over before storing it away.  Do not bring up controversial subjects such as religion and politics.
  6. Smile!

These are just a few of the many pointers that I received at the seminar that helped me network with over 80 individuals, including an important client, vendor, and the three event directors.  The night definitely proved to be a success.