7 Simple Face-To-Face Networking Tips


A conceptual vector illustration of an apple and orange shaking hands. Opposites attract or different but equal or perhaps a diverse partnership.

If you’ve been following my content for a while, you know that I’m a big proponent of taking social media connections and getting to know them better with face-to-face interactions. You can grab a coffee if they are local, set up a Skype call – whatever. Every online connection that I have seen and heard has always taken our “relationship” to the next level.

But what about casting even a wider net and attending local events with the goal of meeting new people?

This can be a little scary, if you are new to this type of networking. But trust me, if a guy who still stutters can put themselves out there, you can too!

I went to an event recently by myself, which requires a different strategy than going with a friend. I’ve found that going by yourself forces you to be more social. That “security blanket” of having somebody with you makes it easier to avoid contact with complete strangers. I highly recommend getting uncomfortable and going by yourself some time to take your networking to the next level.

Here are seven tips that I came up with after attending the event:

  1. Break the ice by making your first interaction of the night an easier one. If there are trade show booths set up, chat with somebody at one of them.  Or do a “warm intro” with somebody you are connected with through social media that you recognize, but haven’t actually met yet. If you see any of the organizers of the event, those are great people to speak with too.
  2. Listen more than you talk when meeting new people.  Be ready with a quick elevator pitch about what you do, but focus on asking them open-ended questions and sitting back and listening. It’s a good idea to have at least 5 questions ready to ask, even if you only use 2 or 3. There’s nothing worse than that awkward moment when you (or the other person) don’t know what to say next. Over time, make a list of questions that people seem to like answering the most, and use those again.
  3. Get other people’s business cards – then you are in control. If they only get your card, you are in trouble. Now you can only hope that they reach out, if you did not remember their name. Follow up with an email or social media interaction shortly after the event. What’s your next step to developing that connection?
  4. If you see two people that you know, that may benefit by knowing each other, introduce them. Get the reputation early on in your networking career of becoming a “master connector.”
  5. NEVER ever be salesy on that first interaction. Imagine how silly you will look if you’ve known somebody for 30 seconds, and get pitchy about what you do! They obviously can’t unfollow you at a networking event, but they can quickly make up an excuse to walk away 🙂
  6. Relax! You won’t be an expert at these events right away. Some days you will be on your game more than others, but your skills will get better over time, if you are open to learning from your mistakes
  7. Smile a lotALWAYS a great strategy!

This is what actually happened:

  • I approached a trade show booth as soon as I got there, and interacted with one of the people working at it. It was a bit of an awkward conversation, but served as my warm up for the night
  • I then recognize a contact from a referral group that I used to belong to. It was a great way to get social early in the evening, and catch up with somebody that I knew at another booth
  • I started a conversation with two people from vastly different industries and had a long chat with them. They were at the event together, and I made sure to ask questions specific to each of them, so one did not feel left out
  • One gentlemen came right up to me, and said he knew me. After I blanked for a moment, I realized that we had coffee before, and corresponded several times over the last few years. We sat together during the formal part of the event
  • I wanted to talk to a social media connection that I recognized, but she was very busy speaking to other people. I sent a follow-up note that I recognized her, and complimented her for asking a great question during the Q&A period of the presentation
  • I noticed one other person that I thought I knew, so I reached out after the event to see if it was them. I lost them in the crowd when the event was at its busiest
  • I had a brief chat with one of the organizers of the event, after they saw me signing up for email updates from their group at an event table
  • Thanked the two people at the event that had invited me, and made sure to connect with them on social media when I got home, followed by thank you emails

As I wrote this out, I realized that a lot happened in two and a half hours at that event! Every time I walk in to a new situation, there is that momentary pause where I have to take a deep breath before diving in and making it all happen. But once I do that, things just start to flow for me, and should for you as well.

I’d love if you shared some of your face-to-face networking stories, even if things didn’t work quite out as planned. This is an AWESOME topic to learn from each other.

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One Hello On A Mountain Run – Really?


Way way back in 2011, in a galaxy far away, I was at a conference in the incredible Rocky Mountains of Jasper, Alberta, Canada. I was there for two days and had the distinct pleasure of staying at the Jasper Park Lodge; the best accommodations in the area!

Before an evening function, I decided to go for a late afternoon run. Behind the resort was a lake, golf course, and what looked like a running path through the woods. I figured, there were worse places in the world to run, so I would check it out!

Part way through my run, as I was avoiding bears and other wildlife (just kidding), I noticed another man doing the same thing. We crossed paths at some point and I said, “hello”. One thing lead to another and I found out he was from Atlanta, Georgia. I told him I grew up in Winnipeg, Canada. I also found out that he was a hockey fan, a referee and all round sports guy. As fate would have it, Atlanta was about to lose their NHL hockey team (the Thrashers), to Winnipeg (the Jets) and I was getting hockey back in my hometown after a 16 year absence!

You know that awkward moment when you sometimes say hello to somebody, they reply, and an uncomfortable pause insues from there?

Yeah that did not happen this time!

We were totally engaged, and that common love of professional hockey, and the strange occurrence of one team leaving the league, and one joining really bonded us. We have stayed in touch periodically over the last five years, and FINALLY Skyped yesterday. Where would we be without social media to keep us connected?

We’ve promised to speak again in July, stay in touch more frequently, and explore a business collaborations together.

Why did this all happen?


Because I said hello on a run.

And he replied hello.

Then I found out where he lived and what he did for work.

Then I probed some more and found out that he was a hockey fan.

Then we connected the dots to that strange situation where his hometown hockey team was moving to my hometown.

Then we agreed to exchange contact information.

Then we connected on some key social media channels like LinkedIn.

Then life got in the way and we did not correspond for long stretches of time. But we were still connected.

Then I sent him a note to say that my new website was live, and he should pop by and check it out some time.

Then he said great, and suggested that we set up a Skype call to finally speak in person.

And that lead to yesterday.




This does not have to be complicated. You just have to put yourself out there. Always remember this takes practice. I have all the respect in the world for people who are shy and more introverted. That’s ok. I totally get it. I’ve stuttered all of my life. I’m sure that I stumbled on some words when I was speaking with Jim, but I did not care. I’m well past that now.

All I said was hello.

“It’s me. I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet”.


Sorry for some reason I started to write Adele lyrics!

I actually just said hello to him!

Now I have a fantastic connection for life, and a great story to share at speaking events, training sessions and via social media for years to come.

I’m a big proponent that everything happens for a reason, but I’m also a believer that good things happen to those that put themselves out there and are laser focused towards achieving their goals.

I’m always in “networking” mode, and I learned that from my parents who were teachers. They are still well-known in our community, and are always locked and loaded with a friendly smile and a warm “hello” waiting for a stranger or friend.

Say hi to people.



You never know where it might lead.



Here is the link to another of my blog post that hopefully inspires you to start more conversations.

Engaging People Is Not Only A “Work Thing”.  


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Engaging People Is Not Only A “Work Thing”

A conceptual vector illustration of an apple and orange shaking hands. Opposites attract or different but equal or perhaps a diverse partnership.

The only way that you are going to get better at something is through practice. I read a quote in a hockey book once that really caught my attention,


Even those with raw talent have to practice regularly. Engaging others in professional roles should not be limited to work relationships. You should practice engaging others when possible.

My dad was a teacher, and is still very engaging to this day – partially because of his personality. But it was also a necessity for his career. Could you imagine being in front of a class of kids and not holding their attention? Teachers who could captivate the “crowd” were always the ones that remained memorable to me.