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Like, is it acceptable to interrupt two people talking? Or can you only approach a group of three or more? How many drinks should you have? Do you eat as much free food as you can, or look professional and stay away from the buffet? Do you try to talk to everyone, or just a few people? There are literally so many unspoken rules, and you’re left sipping a beer in the corner while checking how much time has passed and when it’s acceptable to leave.

In the world of HR, talent management, and sourcing, networking events happen more often than other industries, and since we’ve spent years attending them, we thought we’d share some of our tips.

Ask questions

Networking isn’t all about you. People like it when you take an interest in them, so be prepared to ask questions and do a lot of listening. It also gives you more control over the conversation and you get to determine whether you’re going to invest the evening in this person, or perhaps they’re not the person you need to be talking to. In which case, cut and run, (but not in an obvious way of course).

Find out how you can help people

Often at events such as these, we only think about what other people can do for us; however, try thinking about what you can do for them. It will help build your network and bring people into the fold. You never know what they’ll end up doing for you down the line. Always pay it forward.

Always keep them in mind

Naturally you’ll be asked about you and what you do, and always bear in mind why the other person should care. The nerves of networking events often leave us rambling on tangents that are helpful to no one. Keep things succinct and easily digestible, and above all, relevant to the person opposite you.

Be you

This one is important because the last thing you want is to be completely fake, connect with someone on that level, and then end up doing business with them. That’s a long charade to keep up. Stay authentic to who you are and network with the people you enjoy talking to. It keeps conversations and interactions real, friendly, and genuine—which is the way they should always be and how we should always be conducting business.

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