If you haven't already been introduced to the wonderful world of "networking events" or other forced social settings, then its only a matter of time until you too will come to know the joys of these unavoidable exercises. We've put together a list of random tips for making these events easier to navigate and hopefully more beneficial.
1. Get a copy of the attendance list in advance.
While it's impossible to plan out your conversations with other attendees, the next best thing is to get a copy of the attendance list and to familarize yourself with the attendees before the event. By having an idea of who is going to be there, what they do, their business or other background information, you will feel more comfortable and you can strike up more engaging conversation. It also allows you to prioritize among those whom you'd like to get to know better or introduce yourself to.
If a list isn't availble, there is another option. Most events will have a table set up with the name tags of atttendees. Arrive at the event a little early and take a minute or two to see who's attending. This is at least better than arriving at the event without any idea who will be there.
2. Put your name tag on the right side of your torso.
Essentially 100% of people shake hands with their right hand. And shaking hands with another person is almost always part of the introduction. Put your name tag on the right side of your torso, not your left. This puts your name tag in plain view when you are shaking hands with the person.
Names are always one of the more difficult parts about networking events. Placing your name tag on the right side of your torso makes it easier for people steal a glance at the beginning of the conversation and end of the conversation (remember primacy and recency?). It's always a good thing in this context for people you've met to remember your name.