Networking 101: Relax, Smile, Shake Some Hands, and be Yourself!…and if you’re not feeling it, go home. 

So I love meeting new people! Like I enjoy collecting friends. I am so fascinated by everyone’s unique story and what they have to offer. Unfortunately, I meet so many young people that want to get out there, meet more people, and just shine, BUT they don’t know where to begin! Take a look at these tips to get out there and start leveling-up!

1. Make sure you look good!

Confidence is key when you’re meeting new people. When you go on an interview, go to a conference, or simply get ready for a hot date, you make sure you look good! Dress the part so that’s one less thing that you have to worry about

Oh and when you get compliments on how laid your hair is, or how crisp your suit is, that’ll give you another ego boost to ease the conversation. A very wise person said the best accessory a person can have is their smile. Don’t forget to smile! It relaxes you and makes you more approachable. Please don’t show up with your RBF and expect people to talk to you.

2. Find an event you’re interested in!

This is so important! If you are attending a conference within your industry, you automatically know that you will have SOMETHING in common with someone else. There are so many websites out there now that can keep you in the know of what’s going on in your city. Some of my favorites are and  Meetup has so many fun groups that you can be a part of. You will be able to hang out with people that you normally would not have met. Eventbrite will also keep you in the know of any conferences or events going on in your city. This is a platform many companies/organizations use to promote their event for free or a very low cost.

2. Ask questions!

This is the number one rule to becoming more comfortable in a networking setting. Many people love answering questions about things THEY are interested in and quite honestly talking about themselves.

Feel free to ask any of these questions to break the ice:

  1. So, how do you know the host?
  2. Have you been to one of these events before?
  3. How did you find out about this event?
  4. What do you do? How did you get into that field?

3. Focus on building a relationship, not collecting business cards!

You don’t want to be the serial networker that is passing cards and barely introducing himself. Networking is about seeing how you can help someone else and in return hopefully they can help you in the near future.

The purpose of networking is building GENUINE relationships with others in hopes that you can assist one another when needed. The number one way of finding your next position will be through networking!

Let’s think about it…are you more likely to go to a hairstylist that your friend referred you to or something you just so happened to find online?

4. Be Yourself!

Dont show up trying to be someone else. It’s okay if you’re not an extrovert! Some of the best “networkers” are introverts because they have meaningful conversations and do not need to talk to everyone in the room. That leads me to two more things! Do not hold your new “friend” hostage! Allow a good balance and if you feel it getting awkward, let them go! Seriously, let them know that you either 1. Need to go to the bathroom or 2. Politely excuse yourself by saying “It was great meeting you and hopefully I’ll see you again before we leave.”

5. Get the digits! No, seriously, don’t forget to get some contact information.

You will need to follow up within 2 weeks or so to do lunch or coffee to have a more in depth conversation. You can discuss a potential lead they told you about, discuss how you guys can collaborate or simply any advice they may be willing to offer you! I have met so many amazing people and built some pretty awesome relationships from meeting people at conferences, professional association meetings, volunteering or just in the grocery store.
I understand that everyone is not comfortable starting conversations with strangers but it is necessary if you are trying to level up, sell your brand for that side business you’re starting, or simply just working only improving your interpersonal skills.

You are your brand so make sure you are making a great first impression, remaining yourself throughout the process, and building meaningful relationships!

Best of luck! Feel free to reach out to me if you need to be coached through that first event!


Published by Verlaine Quinniey

Verlaine is the Founder & CEO for The Connect 757. She is on a mission to connect Black Professionals so we can #getconnected & #stayconnected. Email:

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