How To Go It Solo at a Networking Event

2 08 2011

I’ve recently been asked to share my advice on how best to approach attending an in-person networking event when you have to go it alone, so I thought I’d just provide access to a PDF of the Nov. 2010 article I wrote for the now (sadly) defunct site:

I’m also including a link to the article via Please feel free to share it with others, and because the site where it first appeared no longer exists, I’m also reprinting a few of the tips I included in it here. Please let me know if you try either of these and how they turn out for you. 🙂

Two additional pieces of advice that I’ve used and have seen help solo attendees again and again:

1. Find the event’s host(s) or any of its sponsors and introduce yourself to them with the same warm smile and handshake as above, and then thank them for hosting and/or sponsoring the event. Remember, these people are hosting the event and they want everyone there to have a good experience — just as you would if you were hosting a party or event. You can then ask about their connection to or role with the group/event and find out what their goals are for the evening. You might be surprised by what you learn, and maybe you’ll discover a few ways you might help them.

If nothing comes to mind immediately, ask for a business card and make a note of their need on the back of it. Let them know you’ll be in touch if you come across whatever it is they need. At that point, explain what made you attend the event and your own goals for attending, and just wait and see what happens next. More often than not, they just might try to help you connect with other folks at the event or will follow up with you via e-mail or phone.

2. Get in line for something, whether it’s food, drink or the bathroom (seriously). Use that time to ask the person of your choice (in front or behind you) if she’s connected to the event or a member, or know anyone who was nominated. Or if it’s someone you know slightly, try one of my all-time favorite openers, which anyone can answer: Find out what they’re working on. For example, “Hi Britney, good to see you. Sandy Jones-Kaminski from Bella Domain (in case she looks like she doesn’t remember you); we met at the spring luncheon. How are things going? (Let them answer.) So what are you working on these days? Anything exciting?”

Sometimes the answer is something fun, like planning a trip to Australia. Or it might even be something you can assist them with by connecting them to a resource. If there aren’t any lines at the event, just look around for another solo person and practice any of the techniques mentioned above. I’ve met some of my favorite contacts that way, and they now make it a practice to do the same thing whenever they attend any type of event.


Networking defined and why it matters

27 07 2011

Find out how I define networking and why I think it matters by watching the interview I did with Steve Piazzale, Ph.D., the host of  “You’re Hired!”

Bookmark and Share

ad:tech 2011 The Lean Back Conference Attended By (Mostly) Lean Forward Types

15 04 2011

Something new I’m starting: Event Reviews of things I attend. Here’s my first for  ad:tech 2011  in San Francisco and what I’ve decided to name it:

The Lean Back Conference Attended By (Mostly) Lean Forward Types


ad:tech 2011  – San Francisco, CA – Moscone Center West

Held by: ad:tech/DMG World Media

Date: April 11-13, 2011

Business reason for attending:

Networking, reconnecting and visibility at the only west coast location of this international conference series attended by mostly industry decision makers.

Notes: This conference was structured as what I’d call a “lean back” event, but was mainly attended by “lean forward” types that quickly disengage and revert to their own personal screens (mobile, iPad, laptop, etc) if the interaction levels or focus required aren’t there. An example of a lean forward event would be an unconference, freeform conference or something-camp. This chart illustrates the lean back vs lean forward concept:

(Source of table:

This phenomenon is highly relevant to this ad:tech event because it also impacted most of typical informal opportunities for networking. I can explain this best by describing connecting scenarios that were typically always available and recommended in the past:

  1. Waiting in line to check into the conference
  2. Being seated in the room before a session begins and chatting up your nearby neighbors
  3. Sitting in a lounge area while folks are checking vmails between sessions
  4. Waiting in line to chat with one of the presenters or panel hosts
  5. Waiting in line for the restroom (usually only applies to women since there always seems to be a line) or coat check
  6. Attended and working the room at the end of day networking activities

In all of the above scenarios the typical modus operandi for most was to lean forward into a screen to: text, check email, look at Facebook (chat with friends there), check in on Foursquare (that could produce some occasional connecting but most folks are lurkers there at events like this), scan a Twitter stream, check out the site(s) of the presenters you just saw, check in w/the office, etc. You get the idea.

Even during the breaks there would be 7  or so people around a round table all sitting together and no one was speaking to each other — they were all leaning forward into a screen. What’s interesting/odd is that there was only one single instance where the host/event facilitator asked the keynote attendees to remember that networking was a big reason we were all there and to find a stranger around your seat and introduce yourself to them.

I could go on about this, and what I would have done differently if I were hosting, but I won’t b/c it wasn’t my event and I did my best to make the most of the opportunity in spite of the challenges. I definitely believe this was still a good use of my first week/time because I was able to spend a few hours intermittently with an industry association board president, and ĂĽber-connected all around good guy who made a point of introducing me to everyone that stopped or approached him whenever we reconnected at the conference. I also met and chatted with quite a few of his other board members and we are now already linked via LinkedIn.

And, yes, there were a few standout presentations from Guy Kawasaki, Jeffrey Cole ( – a think tank), Arianna Huffington (she kept saying “loca” for “local” which most women in the audience with even a basic understanding of Spanish chuckling), and the champion for “digital fitness,” Bonin Bough, the head of digital and social media for Pepsico. He was smart, funny and very “lean forwardy.”

Please pick my brain…for a fee!

12 05 2010

For the next 6 weeks, and for 2 days out of each week, I’m offering friends of friends and/or my Seattle contacts a 50 minute career search or biz dev strategy session for only $50.


Why 50-4-50? Because over the past (almost) 5 years, as many of your know, or have personally experienced, I have acquired a considerable amount of social capital in, and knowledge of the Puget Sound market. So, for a few personal as well as professional reasons, I want to share what I can with those that need it before July 1st.

And, just in case you need further convincing of the value I can offer, below you’ll find what a few people have had to say:

“Sandy is generous, outgoing and incredibly knowledgeable about social networking and tackling the ever-challenging job search. After a one hour of meeting with her, I was left with tons of fabulous job search ideas, networking tips of the trade, and a list of new groups and forums that I had not uncovered on my own despite months of searching. Sandy gave me the extra motivation and knowledge I needed to hit the ground running.”

Service Category: Career Coach, Networking Strategist

Top Qualities: Personable, Expert, High Integrity

Jennifer Deakin Noseworthy, Product Marketer (for hire)

“As a new professional in Seattle, Sandy has been an incredible resource in connecting me to the right business partners based on my needs. She has an uncanny ability to quickly assess situations and effectively come up with smart strategic solutions. I recommend her as a great asset to any organization.”

Julie Goldthwait, VP of Marketing, (fka Jobster)

I’m only offering this coaching on Tuesdays (in Seattle) and Thursdays (on Mercer Island) during the weeks of May 17 through June 25 only and will provide 50 minutes of focused, one-on-one networking strategy coaching (for job search or biz lead gen) as well as connections/introductions on a personalized and pre-paid via PayPal only basis (they take all credit cards – link below).

To insure you get your preferred slot, please PAY IN ADVANCE via PayPal (non-refundable if less than 24 hours notice of cancellation, otherwise, 50% refund) – by JUST CLICKING HERE.

After you’ve paid for your slot, please contact Emma at to schedule your session. Be sure to include your name, email, cell phone number, and your top 3 time slot choices from the list below.

Lastly, if you’ve ever rec’d coaching or advice from me in the past for free, please consider doing a pay-it-forward and share this offer with anyone you think could benefit from 50 minutes of my insights and access to my brain matter. :) Thanks for your support!

Slots are available: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Please indicate your top 3 time slot choices from the following list:

  • Morning: 8:00, 9:00, 10:00
  • Afternoon: 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00
  • Evening: 5:00, 6:00

Not in Seattle? Remote consults are available for $75…again, pre-pay via PayPal (see link above) and then contact Emma ( to schedule your one-on-one conference call.

Sandy p.s. More testimonials can be found HERE.

Bookmark and Share

7 Savvy Networking Tips for 2010

25 01 2010

7 Savvy Networking Tips for 2010:

1) Don’t take networking too seriously. It can and should be fun. Connect with the intention of helping others rather than simply expecting to find the elusive perfect job or client. Relax, take the pressure off yourself and focus on what you can bring to the party or offer in the form of contacts, knowledge or resources.

2) Improve your outlook and your fortune will change. If you have a negative outlook on networking, you’re probably sabotaging your chances at connecting with the “right” people. Put all the negative or disappointing encounters behind you and focus on “what’s possible.” As Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.”

3) Take a proactive approach and get off the couch or out from behind your screen and get out there! Remember, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” You eventually have to meet people to know if you’ll really connect with them, and the more people you meet, the more likely you are to find the “right” people for you. (It’s almost like dating, isn’t it?)

4) Keep the alcohol consumption to a minimum if you’re at an event where it’s being served. Being relaxed is good, but having your buzz on and then acting inappropriately is not a good way to be memorable at any event. A phrase that comes to mind here is “The more I drink, the cuter you get.” Yikes! Do I really need to say more here?

5) Be the person to include others into the conversation when they join the circle. What a great way to create a good impression and set an example for others. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

6) Be polite and considerate. Good manners never go out of style. Leave your ego in the restroom after you’ve checked your appearance (make sure there are no traces of your lunch in your teeth) and also leave the office politics at the office. A networking event is a time to be non-competitive and social in a professional yet friendly way.

7) Be sincere, open and follow through on your commitments.  Authenticity leaves a lasting impression, and even if you don’t find a way to assist each other immediately, you never know when someone might introduce you to a key new contact down the road.

I cover a lot of this in my book, but wanted to share some of this content here and before I attend a few networking events myself this week. Can’t hurt and might help!

Bookmark and Share

Like This!

Recent product feedback worth sharing

19 01 2010

In December, I spoke to the folks of Matt Youngquist’s S.A.F.E. Club at Career Horizons on how to think differently about networking as part of the job search process. I received some really gratifying feedback that I thought I should share because it appears I may have a new “product” in the form of speaking gigs. Yes, I will work for book sales! BTW, the S.A.F.E. Club stands for Serious About Finding Employment.

Dec 16, 2009 – S.A.F.E. Club hosted by Career Horizons, Bellevue, WA

Hi Sandy,
I didn’t get a chance to thank you after the meeting, but I really appreciated your message today. I like your “Pay it forward” philosophy. I’ve kind of been doing it unconsciously (therefore not very well or consistently) for a long time. You did a great job describing how I can intentionally help others without expecting anything specific in return.
I’m looking forward to reading your book.I'm at a networking event--Now What??? by Sandy Jones-Kaminski
Good luck, and I hope to see you again soon.
Wayne R.

Sandy, Just a couple of thoughts in gratitude of your visit this morning:

*I have attended seven of Matt’s shows and this one was the MOST attended.
*I learned from you that Networking is another name for SHARING-something that my work ethic of habitual 12hour days left little time to stretch out beyond my immediate family. Without sharing something greater than ourselves we are all destined to become “sinkers”.
* I learned that ANYONE can do this networking via a CARING attitude…something I can fully relate to as a self stated champion of professional customer service.

Thanx for your investment to all of us to become better community stewards…and better employees/teammates.

Merry X-mas
Marty R.

Hi Sandy. Thank you for the excellent discussion this morning at Matt’s SAFE Club meeting. I am reading your book now and hope to carry on some dialogue to help us both advance our careers! Keep networking!

– Rick S.

Bookmark and Share

San Francisco Free Love a.k.a A PIF PARTY

19 01 2010

It’s time to take Bella Domain’s PIF Party concept on the road and the first out-of-state party will be in San Francisco on Thursday, February 11, 2010 at Roe on Howard over near Mission and 3rd. Yes, considering I lived there for almost 5 years not too long ago, and still love that town, how could it not be my first choice?!  You can or go to our PIF Parties page to learn more. Please help us spread the word about this event, and, as always, thanks for supporting the pay it forward way!

Bookmark and Share