How to Get the Most from Attending Networking Events

Networking is an essential part of life. Inevitably we look for professional and social validation from our peers. And networking events provide a place for gaining that validation and help support our success in career and social relations. 

So how can you make the most of your networking? By using the art of social skills. 

Here are some tips to help you use those skills to network effectively. 

The imaginary microphone 

Meeting strangers in a formal setting with the intent to make connections is in fact a form of public speaking. You may not be on the stage but you are essentially performing the same role. 

An effective way to make a first strong impression with an important group is to use the microphone technique. When introducing yourself to the group imagine standing on a stage (or on live radio) with a microphone. This mental exercise helps in two ways: first, you are likely to speak in concise sentences with a better selection of words, and second, your voice and cadence will sound more measured. You will be surprised to see how employing this technique purposefully can instantly prime your audience to tune into what you have to say. 

Get names right

People like to hear their names or at least see peers make an effort to spell or pronounce them correctly. It helps affirm their existence and reinforces their sense of self. Directly asking a person to help you with the pronunciation of their unfamiliar or challenging name can be the simplest yet most powerful way to show respect and establish positive association. It’s worth remembering that requesting people to repeat their names is still more polite than asking them for a shorter or nick name. 

The power of pausing

What are your most memorable movie scenes or speeches? Would you describe them as powerful and moving? Watch them again and you will notice that their impact, in all likelihood, is down to the well-timed pauses in their delivery. Pausing before and after important ideas helps to create emphasis and significance. This not only allows the audience to absorb the message more intently it also makes the speaker appear more confident and powerful. So even when speaking one to one use the power of the pause.

Hand gestures 

An analysis of TED talks a few years ago revealed that the most viral speakers used an average of nearly 465 hand gestures. The least popular speakers, on the other hand, used half as many. Even with the sound off speeches with more hand gestures received higher scores from test volunteers on trustworthiness and charisma than those with fewer gestures. In other words, what was said was less impactful than how it was said. In another study, researchers found that using hand gestures increased the value of the spoken message by sixty percent. Combining verbal and nonverbal cues enhanced information processing and recall. 

When engaging at a networking event allow your hands to complement your spoken communication. Hands indicate intention. Using them effectively and purposefully can help establish trust and credibility with your peers.

Active listening

Positive first impressions and interactions do not consist of confident verbal and non-verbal speech alone. Constructive engagement in small groups, like those in the networking events, also depend on your ability to listen effectively. At Toastmasters International, we emphasise the need to develop listening skills as much as speaking skills. 

To establish a connection with your group it’s important that you listen not just with your ears but your eyes too. This means active and attentive visual listening by paying close attention to the person you want to build a rapport with. Making eye contact with them, observing their posture, facial expressions, and body language will help you gain insights into their intentions and emotions. This also reflects authenticity and sincerity on your part. 

They’ll remember you for…

Events like networking require repetitive and seemingly mundane exchange of basic information such as names, vocation and interests. In professional settings people often balk at the idea of saying anything unusual or adding ‘colourful’ details when introducing themselves. But these elements are exactly what can make you stand out, appear instantaneously interesting and leave your peers with something to remember you by long after you’ve met them. The key is to do it skilfully and within context. 

For example, tennis ace Steffi Graf once opened a conversation: “I’m Steffi Graf, and my backhand is so fierce that it has its own fan club.” Steve Jobs once introduced himself at a commencement speech by saying ‘’he had never graduated from college.” 

Incorporating a humorous fact, surprising statements, or a professional anecdote into your introduction can be a powerful tool to create a positive and memorable impression. 

I hope you’ll find these tips at your next networking events. Good luck!


Nishtha Chugh is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit