Read Time: 2-minutes, plus activity.

First, I buy cheesecloth.

Why? Because when I cook Thanksgiving, it’s the ONE thing I always need that’s almost impossible to find on Thanksgiving day.

Buying cheesecloth got me thinking about planning for stuff that we wished we had done “then” that we could be doing “now”.

November 1 begins the frenetic 8-week season leading up to the end of the year. Department meetings, company off-sites and lots of holiday parties are scheduled. Every occasion is an important networking opportunity. But like buying cheesecloth, you will do better in the moment if you take time and plan ahead.

If you’re still reading this, you’re probably among the many who balk at the thought of standing in a crowded, loud room trying to make an impression or communicate a message.

Making a networking plan gives you the confidence to meet the right people and accomplish things that you can’t do in other settings.

So before you RSVP ‘Yes’ to that first event, consider this question:

‘In January 2018, what connections do I wish I had made in 2017?’

Making a plan NOW will help you make this year’s networking moments productive… and maybe even fun.

Start with 3 Absolute Truths about Most People

  1. People are interesting
  2. People want to talk about themselves
  3. People are curious by nature and want to learn something new

Thinking about your conversations with these in mind will help you become a master networker. If you organize your conversations around these truths you will almost certainly;

Find common ground
Leave a memorable impression
Come away set up for your NEXT meeting

Make a Plan

The most satisfying networking happens when both parties feel like they have learned something and made a connection that leads to additional conversations.  But to get to this place requires planning in advance.

Here is a template for organizing your thoughts. A plan will give your networking a focus and take the uncertainty out of walking into a room where you don’t know anyone. Use this for business networking and for social events.


How Many People do I Want to Meet?
Who are the ‘Must Meets’?
Why is this Connection Beneficial to Me?
Why is this Connection Beneficial to Them?
What am I asking for?
What is my Follow up plan?

Download the template here: My Networking Plan

Breakin’ it Down

How Many People do I Want to Meet?
This is helpful if you are going to an event where you don’t know anyone. Decide on the number of people you want to meet before you get to the event.
Having a goal in mind will help you to work the room and meet a lots of different people.

Who are the ‘Must Meets’?
Use this approach for any event where you know the attendee list. If you go into the event with a mental list of who you want to meet, the likelihood is much higher that you will make that happen. Prioritize your list into the people who are most important. Seek them out first.

Why is the Connection Beneficial to Me?
Understanding why making the connection is important will help you prioritize your list of ‘Must Meets’.

Why is the Connection Beneficial to Them?
Remember Rule #3 in the ‘Absolute Truths about People’ section? People remember conversations that have personal value. Look at your target list. Consider how each person can benefit from a conversation with you. Bring that benefit into your conversation. If you are not sure what you offer, ask leading questions based on what you have learned during the conversation.

If all else fails, try this- ‘This is what I do/am working on/am interested in. Based on what we’ve been talking about, how can I help you?’

What am I asking for?
If the conversation has been interesting and you have found common ground, then don’t be afraid to take the next step. November and December events are great for making January plans. Before you leave the conversation, ask if they would like to get together in January to continue the conversation. Tell them you will follow up within a week to get a date on the calendar.

What is my follow up plan?
Then you have to follow up.  Get a card or contact number. Before moving on to the next person, note the key words of your conversation and what was promised.

Doing this will help avoid the panic of … ‘I don’t remember what we talked about. What did I say I would do?’


Get the Ball Rolling Conversation Starters

You have a plan. Now you have to start the conversation.
Here are some tried and true conversation starters to use
in business or social situations.

If you don’t know each other:
‘Which department do you work in?
‘How did you get involved in…?’

If you know each other:
‘What is the most interesting project you worked on this year?’
‘What’s your biggest challenge for next year?’

‘How do you know the host?
‘Have you been here before for a party?’
‘What brings you here this evening?’

Now you have a plan that builds towards your January goals, and you won’t  in find yourself looking back in January thinking,  ‘I wish I had done that!’

And, in case you were wondering, cheesecloth is great for wrapping up herbs,  straining gravy and keeping the turkey happy

Was this helpful? 
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