Networking Meetings: Tips and Best Practices

See guidance and conversation starters for hosting an effective networking meeting. Plus, 4 benefits of networking meetings.

Preparing for an upcoming networking meeting? You’ve come to the right place! Whether you’re a seasoned vet looking to up your game or someone who’s completely new to networking, this blog has something for you! 

What is a networking meeting?

A networking meeting is a meeting that is organized by one or more parties in an attempt to network and connect. Networking meetings are social and educational gatherings that aim to bring people in a common industry or profession together. Unlike a networking event that may host a large group of professionals, a networking meeting instead takes place in a much more intimate setting. Contrary to a networking event that may occur at a large-scale event with multiple professionals from the same industry, a networking meeting will most likely occur between two people through a Zoom chat or intimate coffee chat. 

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4 benefits of networking meetings

1Meeting new people

In a world that predominantly embraces remote work, it can be difficult to meet other professionals. Networking meetings provide the perfect opportunity for professionals to connect and get to know people outside of work. If you find yourself struggling to make connections in your industry, it may be time to facilitate a networking meeting. 

2Learning about opportunities

Networking is an excellent way to learn about new opportunities. While there are several job boards and forums like LinkedIn or Indeed that make it possible to source opportunities, nothing compares to meeting face-to-face to discuss new ventures. Networking meetings may open your eyes to new opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise been available had you not branched out and made new connections. 

3Having the opportunity to ask questions

There’s nothing worse than being blindsided by a new opportunity. If you find yourself exploring opportunities outside of your comfort zone or vying for a promotion, it’s best to do your research and make an informed decision. Networking meetings pose a great opportunity to learn from others in similar situations. Taking the time to connect and ask questions from others who know what it’s like to walk in your shoes may be exactly what you need to move forward in your career with confidence. 

4Building self-confidence

The benefits of self-confidence in the workplace are incomparable. Self-confident employees are more positive, are more inclined to contribute and collaborate, are excellent motivators, and make great role models for those around them. If you struggle with self-confidence in the workplace, it may be time to learn from other professionals in your niche. Scheduling a networking meeting with professionals you look up to may be exactly what you need to boost your confidence. 

Who to ask for a networking meeting

It’s important to be methodical when choosing someone to have a networking meeting with. Instead of picking someone randomly, consider reaching out to a warm lead. This may mean reaching out to a mutual connection, connecting with someone you’ve met previously, or even contacting someone within your inner circle. It’s also important to remember that you’re asking for a favor, meaning you need to be cordial and respectful at all times. 

4 ways to prepare for a networking meeting 

1Have a list of questions

Preparing for a meeting with an unfamiliar face can feel daunting or even overwhelming. A simple task that you can do to help put your nerves at bay is to outline a list of questions that you would like to discuss during your networking meeting. Preparing for your networking meeting in advance will ensure you can proceed with confidence. In addition, having a prepared agenda with talking points will help eliminate the risk of awkward silence while demonstrating your commitment to the conversation. 

2Practice active listening

Being an active listener is essential for effective communication and engaging conversations. Taking the time to actively listen is a sign of respect, and it’s also a great way to show the other meeting attendee that you appreciate them taking the time to chat and connect. 

Practicing active listening is easier than you may think. It can be done by: 

  • Paraphrasing the speaker’s message but refraining from interruption 
  • Expressing interest in the speaker’s message by displaying nonverbal involvement 
  • Asking questions that encourage the speaker to elaborate on their beliefs or feelings

3Ask follow-up questions

Asking follow-up questions is an additional tactic you can use to demonstrate your active listening skills. In addition to engaging in the conversation, asking follow-up questions is a great way to keep the conversation moving. There’s nothing worse than awkward silence, especially if you’re meeting with someone new for the first time. When in doubt, ask a follow-up question to keep the conversation moving! 

4Thank them again at the end 

Expressing gratitude is a must. Before wrapping up your networking meeting, it’s crucial that you thank the other meeting attendee for their time. Taking the time to thank them for their time is an excellent way to end the call on a high. Not only will you have a better chance of leaving a positive lasting impression, but they may also be more inclined to lend a helping hand or point you toward new opportunities if they sense your gratitude. 

Tips for a successful networking meeting

1Share your why 

Sharing the why is crucial regardless of the interaction. Letting the other meeting participant know why you wanted to meet them is a great way to kick off the call. Whether it’s because you admire their expertise, you wish to follow in their footsteps, or maybe because they work at a company you’ve been dying to interview for, it’s important to be transparent and let them know from the start. 

2Be prepared to talk about your background

Being prepared with your elevator pitch is a must. While this may not be an interview, you should still be prepared with facts about yourself and information about your background. If you want the other attendee to appreciate where you’re coming from and help guide you in future endeavors, you should be willing to share information about past experiences that may be relevant to the conversation. 

3Be respectful of their time 

If you want to host a successful networking meeting, be respectful of everyone’s time. If you’ve only set aside 30 minutes for the meeting, make sure you stick within that time frame. If they offer to continue the conversation or go over the time, that’s a different story. Another way you can be respectful of the other person’s time is by showing up on time. Not only will showing up late act as a bad first impression, but it may also make the other meeting participants feel as though you don’t respect their time. 

4Remember it’s not an interview

While a networking meeting may be similar to an interview in many ways, there are key differences that must be considered. You may be meeting to discuss work, but that doesn’t mean work is all you have to talk about. Networking is all about getting to know the person beyond work. To have a successful networking connection, you need to nurture the relationship by getting to know whomever you’re meeting with on a personal level. 

5Keep them informed

Remember, your networking meeting doesn’t end when the meeting finishes. It’s important to think of this meeting as the first interaction of many. Instead of viewing this interaction as a one-time occurrence, think of it as a long-term relationship. It’s important to keep your new connection informed as you move forward. Whether that’s by connecting over a coffee chat in a couple of months or sending them an email when you’ve landed your dream job. 

Free mentor meeting template

Have you found a mentor you’re eager to meet with? The next step is preparing for the meeting. Use this mentor meeting template as a guide for your next networking meeting. 

Are you ready for your networking meeting? 

Congratulations, you’re officially ready to take on your next networking meeting! Remember the first step is putting yourself out there. After you’ve made contact and scheduled your first meeting, the rest is a piece of cake. Taking these tips, tricks, and best practices into consideration will ensure you host an effective networking meeting.

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About the author

Hannah Ross

Hannah is an experienced content creator and digital strategist with a demonstrated history of working with startups, small business owners, and large organizations. Presently, Hannah serves as the Founder at Flamingo Social where she strives to create impactful organic content marketing strategies that help founders tell inspiring stories.

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