How to Network at a Party (Without Acting Like a Loser)

Poor party networkers are on par with party crashers; they’re difficult to spot, they try too hard, and guests refuse to acknowledge them once they’re discovered. So how do you network at a party without looking like a first-class jerk?

If you have some time before the party, then try customizing some rad promotional products to hand out to guests (like Pop-Up Foam Visors – how awesome would it be to see guests wearing your logo all night?). However, let’s say that you didn’t plan ahead and now you’re scrambling for tips at the last minute. Relax, there’s still hope for all of you procrastinators!

Arrive Early and Leave Late

Arrive Early and Leave Late

Party Networking Tip #1: Arrive Early and Leave Late

Many parties involve alcohol consumption, but New Year’s Eve parties are notorious for overindulgence. Guests start drinking early in the night (especially if there’s an open bar privilege) and become downright intoxicated by the time the clock hits midnight, so you have to be an early bird if you want to see any success. Arrive early and start socializing with people while they’re still somewhat attentive. Also, you should only pass out your business cards if a guest has a genuine interest…you don’t want to be that guy (or girl).

Why leave late, you ask? Because it demonstrates responsibility. Someone has to clean up after the guests – whether it’s the host/hostess of the party or the venue staff – and you should be there to help. This will help you earn some brownie points with potential connections; you never know where a good lead will come from!

Be Generous

Be Generous

Party Networking Tip #2: Be Generous

As I mentioned, it’s ideal to personalize promo items if you have the time, but don’t panic if the party is tomorrow and you need to improvise. You’ll be all set if you have business cards and some petty cash! Generosity is the key to guests’ hearts. Stop by the grocery store and pick up some wine, snacks, or fun favors to bring to the party. Wine and snacks go fast when there are numerous guests, so the host/hostess will probably appreciate the extras. (Not to mention, people will probably view you in a positive light from the minute you walk through the door). And as for the party favors, I don’t care how old the guests are – EVERYONE loves them. People will have a good time and you’ll have an easier time breaking the ice when you initiate conversations.

Don't Overdo It

Don’t Overdo It

Party Networking Tip #3: Don’t Overdo It

If you’re a guest at a bitchin’ party and you’re having a few martinis with your friends, then you’re probably not going to think kindly of a bold stranger who approaches your group and immediately tries to sell you on his business ideas. Remember the Golden Rule and treat other guests as you’d like to be treated!

Networking is about BUILDING connections, not cramming your products or services down someone’s throat. You won’t get anywhere with party guests if you’re too anxious to sell, so just take it easy. Introduce yourself and briefly explain what you do, but don’t overdo it. Ask guests about their professions and know when it’s time to change the subject; some people would rather not talk business while they’re at social functions, and that’s something you need to respect when the time comes. There’s nothing wrong with exchanging business cards if you’ve uncovered a need, but establishing a business relationship should be the main purpose of your schmoozing.

You have to know the correct time and place to network…otherwise you’ll do nothing but aggravate people and make them resent you! It would be a shame to lose potential professional relationships because you didn’t bother to plan ahead for a party!

Are there some vital party/networking tips missing from my list? Have you ever encountered a terrible party networker?

Jill Tooley

Jill has been obsessed with words since her fingers could turn the pages of a book. She’s a hopeless bibliophile who recently purchased a Kindle after almost 6 years of radical opposition, and she loves stumbling upon new music on Pandora. Random interests include (but are not limited to) bookstores, movie memorabilia, and adorable rodents. Jill writes for the QLP blog and assists with the company’s social media accounts. You can connect with Jill on Google+.


  1. Bret Bonnet

    Holy crap; the guy featured in the header photo of this post looks just like Jerry Myse our Lanco rep! 🙂

    … Maybe if I were to follow this advice I’d actually have friends that are NOT my employees – JK!

  2. Scooby DOO!

    #1 Don’t drink TOO much or be “that” guy who is totally annoying.
    #2 Don’t make-out with you co-worker, client, or cling all over anyone… things will be funny on “monday.”
    #3 Don’t start divulging information that you wouldn’t if you were not drinking… Loose lips sink big ships. Conversely, use that principal to your advantage.
    #4 Bring plenty of business cards.
    #5 Don’t talk trash.
    #6 Get home safely.
    #7 ABC

    • Tony Promo

      #8 Ask Mike to order business cards because I don’t have any.

      • Scooby DOO!

        #9 Earn your keep… TONY.

  3. Cybernetic SAM

    SO basically if you want to network at a party without coming off as a total tool, you have to be rico suave and woo them into conversation. I find it best when you work into a personal stance (like a funny story, you’ll be remembered) so they already feel involved and connected with your business before they even give it to you. I feel it helps put people at ease, so as not to make them feel like a impersonal in-your-face salesman. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple stupid! 🙂

  4. JJ "Suite G"

    I’ve never actually been compelled to “network” at a social event. Then again, I’ve never had a job that required me to. As far as networking tips are concerned, I would imagine that overstaying your welcome is probably a big no-no. It’s also probably something that’s easy to do, even without knowing. You might be chatting to a person (or to several) and doing a fantastic job at building a rapport, only to find that by the time the evening is over they’re already sick of you.

    ***This happens to me. 🙁

    The lesson: quit while you’re ahead. Leave folks with a little something to mull over. Throw in a few interesting anecdotes about yourself or your business and leave it at that. Plant the seed of intrigue and mystique–they’ll come crawling back for more.

    ***This does NOT happen to me. 🙁

    But it might work for you.

    • Stantz

      I’m with you on both of these points, buddy. 😉

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