Top Tips to Make the Most of Face-to-Face Networking

Posted on 17 June 2024

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression, an old saying but still so true! Research shows that most people make their first impression of a person within 7 seconds, while studies have found that, on average, our first impressions of people are 76% accurate.

So, whether you’re at a networking event or in an interview, you have to make that first impression count… Because you might not get a second chance.

At Merritt Recruitment, we frequently attend industry networking events and understand the crucial impact of making a positive first impression, especially when we initially know little about the individuals or their organisations.

Introducing yourself at face-to-face networking events can be a crucial step in building professional relationships and expanding your network, both key for raising your profile within your industry and for that next career step, whenever you plan to take it.

Here are our top tips to making a great first impression:
Before the Event

1.      Research your audience:

o  Understand the event's purpose, attendees, and key speakers.

o  Look at the delegate list if you have access to it and identify those you would like to meet and learn a little about them to make that first impression memorable.

o  Also look at the exhibitors and speakers lists too and note those organisations and individuals of interest to you.


2.      Prep Your Intro:

o  Craft a concise and compelling elevator pitch (30-60 seconds).

o  Focus on your current role, key achievements, and what you’re looking for.


3.      Dress Appropriately:

o  Follow the event's dress code, opting for professional and comfortable attire.


4.      Bring Business Cards/Download the Event App:

o  Ensure you have enough business cards to distribute to new contacts.

o  If the event offers an app where you can scan people’s badges straight to your contacts – definitely use it!

At the Event

1.      Be Confident & Approachable:

o  Look interested and open – so maintain good posture, open body language (not folded arms) smile, and make eye contact.

o  Approach others with a friendly and an open attitude.

2.      Introduce Yourself Clearly:

o  If culturally appropriate, a firm handshake conveys confidence and professionalism.

o  State your name, role, and company.

o  Share a brief overview of your professional background or current projects. Keep your introduction short and to the point, respecting the other person’s time.

3.      Ask Open-Ended Questions:

o  Encourage conversation by asking questions like, “What brings you to this event?” or “Can you tell me about your role?”

o  Look for shared interests or experiences to build a connection.

4.      Use Active Listening:

o  Show genuine interest in the people you meet by asking questions and listening actively.

o  Nod and provide feedback to demonstrate your engaged with them.

o  Swap contact details when it is appropriate to – so chat first, swap second.

o  Offer your business card and ask for theirs and handle their card respectfully and take a moment to look at it.

o  If using an event app – scan and check you have their details correctly loaded to you phone contacts.


o  Send a personalised follow-up email or LinkedIn message within 24-48 hours.

o  Reference your conversation and express interest in staying in touch.

Additional Tips

1.      Join Group Conversations

Look for groups of 3-4 people and join their conversation, adding value where you can.

2.      Be Mindful of Body Language

Be aware of your body language and non-verbal cues, ensuring they are positive and open.


3.      Manage Your Time

Spend a reasonable amount of time with each person and move on to meet others.

4.      Stay Organised

Keep notes on who you met and any important details to help with follow-up.

5.      Practice Makes Perfect

The more you practice face to face networking, the more comfortable and effective you will become.

Our take on Face-to-Face Networking

Here at Merritt Recruitment, we are a people business so face to face networking is part of what we do. While we genuinely enjoy getting to know new people, we do have to be mindful of maintaining confidentiality – this can sometimes make conversations challenging. For example, it can be difficult to keep the conversation flowing when we are recruiting for a competitor or aware of sensitive information, such as site closures or potential redundancies.

Given that we recruit at all levels, we are constantly on the lookout for new talent and enjoy discussing industry trends. However, balancing our need for discretion with engaging in meaningful conversations is essential for us.

By following our tips, you'll be well-equipped to introduce yourself effectively at networking events and build meaningful professional connections.

We look forward to getting to know you at the next networking event!
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