Hello all --

I've been invited to a fund raiser black-tie gala for a charity related to my industry. I was told, "there will be a lot of industry people there, it'll be a great opportunity to network." I've been looking for a way to "break in" to our local industry, and specifically a way to meet other executives.

I don't know how to approach this event...

Are events like this one where people talk "shop"?
What's the balance of social/professional discussion?
Do I bring business cards?

Any advice from folk would be appreciated. This smells like a good 'cast for M&M... can you guys crank this out before mid-March? ;-)


bflynn's picture

I'd guess that the mix of social/business is a little different between different industries and events, but a charity event should be first and foremost a social event.

This does not diminish its importance in networking, which is about meeting people. Smile, have a good time and meet some people that you ordinarily would not see during the course of your business day. You will be remembered in the business setting, hopefully in a nice way. See the Holiday Party podcast for guidelines on conduct.

I would set a rule that you can talk no more than two to three sentences about business with someone. If it turns out there is a topic that is beneficial to both of you, then suggest that you meet or have a phone call tomorrow, at work. You can have a business card for this reason, the same as you would have a card for this reason at any time. You don't want to get into a detailed work discussion here. A phrase that should work is something like "You know, this is a fascinating topic. Would you mind if I called you tomorrow at work so we can delve into it deeper?" Exchange cards and bring the topic back to non-work topics.

One last suggestion - be sure to have research some social topics before the event. Here in North Carolina, it might include the recent exploits of the local college basketball team, what the Legislature is up to, road construction or the end of the Daytona 500. If you know somebody is coming that you'd like to meet, try to discretely discover one of their hobbies and learn a little about it. I don't intend for that to come across as calculated, but if you'd like to talk to somebody, it would be good if you knew a little about a common topic.

Social does not mean no business. It means very little business.


itilimp's picture
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