Network 101: Working a Room

Michael Roderick, of Small Pond Enterprises shares his insights, discoveries, and tips to maximize YOUR return on investment when attending a networking event.

How to use this worksheet:

  • Ponder the big picture questions. Jot down some notes. This exercise will help you zero in on how to best use your networking time..
  • We’ve put in some links to TedTalks, books etc mentioned during the interview.
  • Numbers listed after the segment are for a quick review of that subject matter.


A question to ask yourself: How do you curate your network currently?

And another: Where are you spending your time networking?


We’re Always Networking (at 2:14)

Become aware of opportunities to connect with potential network allies: List all of the places YOU could be networking – don’t forget community activities like your kids baseball games, church, PTA meetings.

Bonus Advice: The Jay Sullivan Plane Advice: Jay Sulivan, Managing Partner at Exec-Comm, gave some great advice about engaging with people on a plane.

“If you have work to do, and are concerned that someone is going to corner your ear for the flight, put your headphones on and work during the flight. As the plane is preparing for landing, stop working, and ask your seatmate ‘are you flying in or flying out’. This can easily lead to business or pleasure, and if its’ for business, it’s easy to begin to talk biz. A 15 minute investment of time can yield great rewards.”

Adjust your Mindset: Think of Network Management in 4 Stages: Grow | nurture | manage | leverage the network


Devising Your Master Plan (at 4:10)

A question to ask yourself: How much networking/biz building is encouraged at you job? How much time can you commit weekly to networking in general?

Don’t get lured:

  • Low cost/no cost events are often a biz card exchange
  • Limited audiences and curated events have great potential. Make sure they are in alignment with your goals. Will your potential customer be at these events?

Choosing an Event (at 6:17)

A question to ask yourself: What are your hobbies | passions that have association’s or groups or teams or activities? Ie. A wine tasting group, a softball team?

A great project: Attend some events organized by networking groups and professional associations. Think about where you’re comfortable and can see yourself grow roots. Then become an active member in the community – this effortlessly increases your profile and swat.

Shameless Promotion: Women’s Advancement Compact should be able to serve these needs for you!


Upon Arrival (at 8:08)

Would an actor storm into an audition before ‘getting into character’?

An important checklist:

  • Mentally prepare before entering an event:

o   Come to the present

o   What are your goals

o   Execute a ‘Wonder Woman Pose’ (link to the Ted Talk)

  • Remember the WORST thing you can do before a big meeting or an event?
  • Be mindful of which side you put your tag on.


An Ocean of Networkers (at 12:45)

PLEASE remember: Positive posture and a smile are essential upon entering an event.

Networkers can be characterized into 4 archetypes:

  • Don’t be a Shark – love the one you’re with!
  • Don’t be a Dolphin – when you huddle with people you know, you’re NOT meeting new people
  • Don’t Drown – This is not the time to be on your smart phone. If you don’t know anyone, take a cleansing breath and here are a couple of suggestions:

o   Practice Joe Echevarria’s 3 ft rule- if he is within 3 ft of someone, he introduces himself! (Joe’s the retired CEO at Deloitte)

o   The line to the bar is a great place to easily start a conversation. Simply asking someone what brings them to the event is a natural question that can lead to great conversation – or not… but it’s a start!

  • Be a Lifeguard! Save someone.

Adjust your Mindset: Networking events are NOT places to sell your services, it’s a place to ask ‘how can I help’?


Entering Conversation (at 18:19)

Don’t look like a rookie: Introduce yourself using your first AND last name!

Don’t lead with ‘what do you do’ or ‘who are you with’.

A great small talk question: ‘what are you reading?’

What are YOU reading right now that you could showcase and potentially find common ground?

Authenticity Killer: Follow a Framework – do NOT follow a formula when networking!

An authentic first question: Ask about a person’s business goals.

Adjust your Mindset: Think twice before asking ‘how can I help you?’


Engaging (at 27:04)

Adjust your Mindset: Be curious – genuinely curious about learning about other’s.

Be in tune with others receptiveness towards you. Are they answering in one word sentences? Are they looking around the room? If they aren’t engaged, don’t think you have failed – just move on. Someone else WILL be interested in speaking with you!

Adjust your Mindset: LISTEN instead of worrying what to ask next. The next question will naturally arise.

Adjust your Mindset: Be fully engage and present.


The Elevator Pitch (at 30:21)

Warning: Elevator Pitches can change the energy of a conversation.

Have some fun with the pitch –

  • Make yourself sound mysterious and access how much the person is interested in learning about what you do.
  • Don’t describe what you do – but how you help. How do you help your clients? How do they benefit from working with you?
  • Try the ‘bounce back’ method – ask others what they do, and find a way to position yourself to address a need of the other person.
  • If someone responds with a statement like ‘that sounds nice’ – it is NOT an invitation to go into detail.

A Don’t Miss TED talk: Simon Sinek – Start with the ‘Why’ of what you do. People never get tired of hearing the passion


Differentiate Yourself (at 36:09)

Adjust your Mindset: “If you’re a product for everybody, you’re a product for nobody”

A question to ask yourself: What is your specific niche? Who do YOU serve, and how do you serve them uniquely?


Exiting Conversation (at 37:56)

Adjust your Mindset: Wait until you feel a conversation is finished before asking for a card. Card exchange indicates that the conversation is over.

Adjust your Mindset: When you collect biz cards – use the FIFO method

Try this on for size: “I’d love to stay in touch with you, how can I get in touch?”

This one, too: “I’m going to excuse myself – I’m going to grab something to drink” or “Excuse me, I’m going to run to the bathroom”

A question to ask yourself: Are you a chatty Cathy? How do you know?


Advice for Introverts (at 44:50)

Adjust your Mindset: Pick up some tips to use the buddy system!


Food & Beverage (at 46:53)

An important checklist:

Have a snack before you arrive at the event

Hold your glass in your left hand

Use a F&B excuse to excuse yourself

You can enjoy snacks during the presentation – just make a little plate for yourself before you sit!

Don’t double dip a chip!!!


The Key to Success (at 54:33)

Woody Allen says that 80% of success is showing up, Deborah says that 80% of success is follow up!

Important Fact: If you don’t write down what you’ve learned about the people you’ve met right away, you’re going to lose precious information.

An important follow up checklist:

Do NOT make a phone call to follow up.

Learn to craft GREAT emails

Use the subject line to remind the person of where they met you: “loved speaking with you at last night’s WAC event”

Use Social Media to follow up – LinkedIn – but you MUST use a personal message

While you’re there, check out who the person is connected to.

Introduce a person of interest to someone who could benefit them – you can do that on Twitter, too.

Plant seeds for the next step – find a date for coffee or lunch


Keep in Touch (at 103:02)

Michael Roderick can be found at

Follow Mike @MichaelRoderick