How to make the most of a business networking event


The end of the summer holidays means the start of a new season of networking receptions at the French Chamber – so we asked experts within our membership to share their top tips for making a success of these events.

Identify your targets 

Before the event, take the time to look through the list of attendees and pick out some names that interest you. Five is a good number to aim for: enough to develop your network further without spreading yourself too thin.  

Once you’ve identified them, dig a bit deeper: have a look through their websites, LinkedIn profiles, or better still, their profiles on the French Chamber Connect app. By doing this preparation, you can make sure that your targets are a good match for what you are searching for and gain useful background information to begin conversations. 

If you’re short on time, ask the organisers. The French Chamber staff are always keeping up with their members’ activities and will easily be able to recommend some potential new connections. 

Have a general strategy  

Prepare talking points 

Introduce yourself with confidence and a smile. It is better to be a good listener than a talker, so have a stock of intelligent and thoughtful questions ready to ask those you meet. ‘80% listening, 20% speaking’ is an excellent model to follow during a first interaction. The most important person in the room is the person you are speaking with – so give them your full attention. 

If you’re unsure how to begin a conversation, start by making positive comments: it will draw people to you and pique their interest. ‘That’s an interesting conversation you are having – may I join you? Great venue – have you been here before?’ It helps to get the party going!   

Choose topical subjects for discussion that you are genuinely interested to know more about. In 2022, this could be something like: ‘What is your working from home policy? How well does it work?’ This will draw others into the conversation and help to get group discussions going. 

Attendees may have all kinds of hidden talents to be tapped into – so be warm and welcoming to other delegates and open to new people joining your group. Face the centre of the room rather than the wall: it shows that you are open to new connections and helps you avoid getting stuck in conversations going nowhere. 

If you haven’t found a group, head to the bar!  

The bar, buffet or anywhere serving food is often where you’re most likely to come across people hanging around by themselves – so an excellent place for meeting new people and breaking the ice. 

Be confident when navigating a Franco-British environment 

British representatives are often unsure if they will be welcome at French Chamber events; the answer is a firm yes! 

Being plunged into a French setting as a British entrepreneur (and vice versa!) can be overwhelming – but remember that communication is key. Speak slowly and clearly to someone in their second language and assess the fluency of the replies you get. 

It can be intimidating to join a circle of guests speaking another language, but a simple polite and confident greeting can go a long way. The French Chamber team can also help by introducing you directly in English. 

Make sure you are up to date with French current affairs too – this can open the door to further conversations. “What is the biggest business challenge you are facing this year? Is this a challenge that others are facing in France?’ 

Keep everything in perspective

Above all, remember to focus on building connections rather than making sales. Aim to stay at the event until at least its halfway point. The longer you stay for, the greater opportunity you will have to solidify new relationships. People are often at their most relaxed and convivial at the very end of an event, so make a point of going back to say goodbye to your new connections. 


Many thanks to our contributors: 

Français à Londres is the leading online magazine dedicated to London’s French community, keeping its 35,000 members up to date with all the latest Franco-British news, developments and events. 

Angela Mortimer plc is a global network of recruitment experts. For over 40 years it has helped executives to scout out the talent they need, finding candidates positions where they can ‘be both inspiring and inspired’ 

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