What’s in your networking tool kit?

13 Apr
... is going to sting a little when he's bring...

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On the April 9 episode of Digital 411, I convened a great panel of networking pros to talk about what it takes to become a master networker. Frequently people think you have to be the most outgoing and gregarious person at an event to be a great networker — wrong! Rather than recap our discussion, I invite you to listen to the podcast and take notes, because the conversation was great!

What we didn’t get to talk about was your “networking tool kit.” What’s a networking tool kit you ask? It’s all the stuff you need to have easy access to and with you when attending just about any networking event or outing. I’m not saying everyone travels this way, but these are items I’ve found to be invaluable to have with me.

Business Cards

So, this one is a no brainer. And if you listened to Ryan Bauer on Digital 411, he’s not a big fan of receiving them — and in fact, reportedly saves them to burn for heat in the winter. None the less, have plenty of business cards with you.

As an aside, I don’t necessarily give my business card to everyone, and I don’t think you should feel compelled to do so either, but that’s completely up to you. Also, regardless of whether you’re unemployed or a student — get some business cards. There are relatively inexpensive options like Vista Print that can give you something to work with.

Mints or Gum

I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to where I find myself trapped in a corner talking to somebody with breath smelling like a loaded baby diaper. Of course it’s not intentional and maybe they can’t help it (I hear there are actual disorders that cause this), but this can all be hemmed up by carrying a few mints or a pack of gum with you.

I prefer gum and pop a piece at the beginning of an event, and during each bathroom break. I might be a little OCD about it, but bad breath is memorable — and who wants to be remembered for loaded diaper breath?

Hand Sanitizer

I am not a germ-a-phobe, but I do keep a bottle attached to my person at all times.

This is so much more essential than what it might sound like at first glance. Keep in mind, you likely live in America and are expected to shake hands. And if you’re going to an event and hoping to meet new people, you’re going to seem really weird if you don’t shake hands. Remember:

Roomful of people + Lack of ventilation + Bodily Contact = Instant Illness. Trust, you’ll thank me for bringing this to your attention.


The other day someone said to me, “Wow, you’re having a beer. That’s so weird because I’ve never seen you drink at networking events.” I wouldn’t say I “never” drink at networking events, but it’s obvious I don’t always drink alcoholic beverages when networking. My goal is to never be that person that gets way to hammered and clearly lose sight of my purpose for attending — to make a good impression with people I’ve never met.

And as I’m sure you know, alcohol doses not hydrate you and with all that talking, you get dry mouth and are basically asking for loaded baby diaper breath. #JustSayin!

Good Exit Line

Depending on your level of influence and the other person, you might find yourself trapped talking to some dude about some bull stick network marketing program they’re trying to rope you into and that sucks. That’s why having a good exit line is important. I’m not giving out my secret lines here — but I encourage you to come up with something that is courteous to politely excuse yourself from those conversations so you can circulate and work the room.

So, that’s what I have in my networking tool kit. What do you always have ready when going into settings to meet new people. I’m sure I’ve left some things out so feel free to share in the comments section.


Posted by on April 13, 2011 in business, Networking


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3 responses to “What’s in your networking tool kit?

  1. Heather

    April 29, 2011 at 6:07 am

    Indeed, diaper breath is the memory gift that keeps on giving. I’ve been startled lots of times by very well-put-together-looking business people whose breath made flowers in my apartment wilt… and they were 10 miles away from them!

  2. Jacob Stoops

    April 13, 2011 at 9:07 am

    Funny post. Yeah, I’ve been stuck a few times. If you’re at a network event that involves adult beverages, I’d say make sure to always have one on hand. That way, if you get into an awkward conversation you can finish your drink and excuse yourself to go order another. Problem solved! Awkwardness (and maybe bad breath) averted!

    • Erika Pryor

      April 13, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      That’s a great suggestion. When I was going to a networking event this evening, I remembered I always like to eat a granola bar on the way to an event. You can never count of food actually being available unless it’s intentionally planned over a meal time. Otherwise, not feeling stressed to get something to eat because you’re starving is better than wishing you could hit of the dollar menu at McDonald’s.


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