Laurel Bellows

5 Top Tips for Networking in Large Groups

Face-to-face networking, whether done one-on-one or in a large group, can be challenging. In the first of this two-part series, I will share my top five secrets to successful networking in a group.

1. Be ready to work the room, but narrow your focus. Do not attempt to meet everybody. If there is an invitation list or some way to figure out who will be at the event, identify the people you want to meet. Think of the large networking event not as an opportunity to accidentally make useful connections but as an occasion to connect with people you planned in advance to meet. Be prepared and proactive as possible.

2. You can show up with your friends, but do not stay with your friends. Yes, friends will introduce you to other people. But if you go with friends, the idea is to send them off in two or three different directions with the idea of scooping up some good contacts for each of you.

3. Set a goal. Plan to meet two or three people on whom you can focus your attention and conversation. Look to identify the kinds of people who will refer you business, or help you get involved on a charity board, or something that is important to you.

4. Ask your new contact: How can I help you? Look for people you sense value reciprocity.

5. Follow through. Do not throw your cards in a big basket and forget about them. Email or call to schedule coffee and a chance to talk with your new contact about what you can do to help him or her. Networking is about how you can help someone else because then that person will be much more interested in assisting you.

Laurel Bellows is a Principal in The Bellows Law Group, P.C. and president of the American Bar Association. Bellows will be posting regularly during her presidency to engage with young women lawyers and law students. 

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