A simple greeting technique for networking events

 In Environment, Networking

Imagine you’re at a networking function. Imagine that a puppy prances through the doorway into the room, with its tail wagging happily back and forth. The puppy approaches a person. The person aggressively shoos it away.

Startled by the aggression, the puppy moves away from the person.

Now consider . . .  what would the puppy do next? Would it become depressed? Would it scamper out the room?


The puppy would most likely just go over to another person greeting them with its ‘happy tail’.

What’s the point of sharing this vignette? Simply this. When you enter a networking function – be like a ‘Puppy with a happy tail’. If, when you approach a person or group of people talking, they don’t look at you/invite you to join them – don’t get depressed, or sulk away to a corner or leave the event. Just move on from this inappropriate behaviour* and go greet a new person or group with your ‘happy tail’.

Two weeks ago I delivered a short presentation to 200 corporate IT people at a Town Hall session where I shared the ‘Puppy with a happy tail’ message. At the after-session drinks,  that message, nominated by numerous people I talked with, was reported as the most memorable one from my presentation.

This ‘happy tail puppy’ imagery will counter apprehension you may feel when entering and interacting at a networking event. Apprehension, that may be conveyed through your face and body language at the critical moment of greeting/approaching a group of strangers.

This imagery is a simple, powerful way to ‘break the ice’ and to project certainty and self-confidence.

In addition to ‘Be a puppy with a happy tail’ here are three more key techniques for participating in networking events.

  1. Use one of the following questions once a person/a group acknowledges you:
    ‘Mind if I listen in?’ or ‘Mind if I join you? These types of question allow you to easily merge into the group. Over many years of attending networking events, I’ve never had anyone say ‘No’ to these types of ‘entry’ questions.
  2. Focus on turn-taking in the interaction.
    This means you should answer and ask questions. (and think of those questions before the event and log them in your smart phone for ready recall at the event). Questions you can use include: ‘What are you working on?’ or ‘What’s top of mind in your work?’ or ‘How are you handling the new operating structure?’ etc.
  3. End an interaction with certainty.
    At some point in a group interaction the conversation will come to a natural close or ‘dead spot’. At this point – rather than sidle away ‘to get a drink’ or ‘use the facilities’ be upfront and say something along the lines of the following. ‘Well I’m sure you want to talk with other people and so do I. Good talking with you. Enjoy the rest of the event’.

Your CALL to action/HOW to apply for this post: In the next seven days book into a networking event. Log the words ‘happy tail puppy’ in the event record to remind you to use the above techniques.

* The purpose of networking is to meet people. If you only want to talk to a select group of people, separate yourselves to area away from the main group and have your private conversation. This will signal to others you want to be left alone. Don’t plant and clump yourselves among the wider group.

Better still, set another time to talk with your friends. Say goodbye to them, and go meet some new people.

p.s. Here is a prior post on Networking that might interest you

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