A Guide to Networking with Confidence

In this article...

Picture this: you’ve just entered a crowded networking event. How do you feel with all the conversations filling the room?

Anxious person thinking of networking

Whether you want to expand your business network or push yourself out of your comfort zone, the idea of networking can feel overwhelming! In this guide, we will provide you with actionable tips on how to approach people, create a welcoming atmosphere, and leverage digital tools to navigate networking events with ease and self-confidence. Let’s dive in!

How to approach people?

Your experience at a networking event is shaped by two main factors: where you choose to connect with people and how you approach them.

Choosing where to connect with people
Not all networking events will be right for you, and it may take some experimenting to find your ideal environment. While many envision networking events as loud and crowded, it’s important to remember that networking activities can be carried out in locations that are not explicitly designated as networking events. Moreover, there are a variety of settings where networking is possible, for example: If you’re okay with larger crowds, consider:
  • Industry conferences
  • Large networking events
  • Trade shows
  • Career fairs
Prefer something quieter and more intimate? Look into:    
  • Professional workshops
  • Local meetups
  • Small discussion groups
  • Volunteer events

"Remember that networking activities can be carried out in locations that are not explicitly designated as networking events."

People networking in a small envirnment
Finding the words to start a conversation
Starting a conversation can seem intimidating, but it’s manageable with prep and a clear objective.
First, think about your goals. Do you want to build professional connections, look for a referral to help yoland a job, or aspire to find a mentor to help you advance in your career? Setting SMART goals helps direct your conversations with purpose.
With a clear goal in mind, you should then prepare answers for questions such as “What do you do?” to help you transition to meaningful conversations. According to Jennifer Cross, Co-founder of CityBuildHERS and a leader featured in our Leaders in Business series, an articulated and substantial response to this question can make the difference between a quick hello and a valuable connection.
Jennifer Cross, Founder of City BuildHERS, thoughts on the need to network in Ottawa.
Jennifer Cross' comment on our recent TAGTips LinkedIn post about networking.
Here are some conversation starters to help you start and keep a conversation going.

Small talk:
  • What brings you to this event?
  • Have you been here before?
  • [When picking food] All the options look so good! What are you getting? OR What do you recommend?
Finding common ground:
  • Have you heard about [a hot topic in your industry]? What are your thoughts on it?
Learn more about the other person:
  • What are some exciting projects you’re working on right now?
  • How long have you worked at [company name]?

Prepare a loose script to introduce yourself: Hi, [XXX], I’d like to introduce myself. My name is [Your Name], and I’m working on [Your Project/Role]. I’ve followed your work and admired your expertise in [industry/field]. Do you think we could talk for a couple of minutes, I want to learn and hear from you what do you think has defined your success.

Managing corporal language

Have you ever felt awkward when trying to join a group of people because of the fear of interrupting? And then, once you’re in, you catch yourself distracted juggling how to position your feet, hands or arms? Well, acting as a croissant is the answer to your struggles.
Wait, a croissant?
Oh yes! Let your body be a croissant.
A recognized networking expert, Robbie Samuels, explains this simple and life-changing strategy. Being a croissant instead of a bagel means positioning yourself in a way that —while having a conversation— you invite people to join you.
How? By leaning back on one of your legs and opening the circle in which you’re having a conversation. That slight change opens ‘the bagel,’ a closed and non-inviting circle, and turns it into a ‘croissant,’ a corporal body invitation for others to join.
Let’s allow Robbie to explain it in detail and show you how this strategy works in groups and 1-on-1:

Following up 

The networking event is over! You breathe a sigh of relief, feeling good and smiling knowing you have established some valuable connections. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and lasting connections take time. To continue nurturing those relationships, make sure you follow up: 

  • Within 24 hours —keep the momentum going and bring back to the other person’s mind the conversation you both had. 
  • Extending an invitation —to continue talking in a coffee shop, for example, if there is mutual interest. 
You can request people’s contact info at the event by asking them to:
Scan your LinkedIn QR code
LinkedIn provides you with a QR code to your account so others can scan it with their phone and add your contact information to their network.
A TAG Tip is to download the image before the event and save it in your photo album, so you don’t struggle with a bad signal on site.
In that case, the other person can take a picture of your QR code, open the LinkedIn app after the event, click on the QR code icon, then ‘Scan’, and ‘Scan from photos’.
Tutorial to get your LinkedIn QR code
How to find your LinkedIn QR code.
Read your NFC Business card
Consider investing into an NFC business card – the business card of the 21st century, where contact information is shared by tapping it on another phone. Your card is reusable and you can share as many contacts as possible with no concerns of paper waste.
People exchanging their contacts on their phones at a networking event
The NFC card is customizable to a website, email, WhatsApp, Linktree, or more. So, your brand is not only seen on your business card, but also on the links that open afterwards. Plus, it’s always a great conversation starter!
There are many affordable options with a quick Google search. Yet, if you don’t want to buy a physical card, you can try NFC business card apps for free, and take advantage of your phone capabilities!

💡If you're an iPhone user, NameDrop solutions it’s a feature to look at. It allows iPhone users to hold their phones close together, aligning the tops and exchange contacts —just make sure both devices have iOS 17 or newer versions of software.

We hope this networking guide was helpful to prepare you on how to approach people with confidence and keep growing your network!
Stay connected with us on LinkedIn or Instagram, where we share networking events in Ottawa, along with tips and news tailored to help you grow your career.

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