The appropriate way to introduce yourself at a networking event is always “Wait, remind me of your name again?” At least, according to this one guy I met.

I was just sitting down to listen to a presentation attended by a group of about fifty other 20-something professionals and college grads. Some of us knew each other, I had friends across the room, but a majority were strangers. So I was surprised when a guy I’d never met settled into a chair next to me, extended his hand and asked to be reminded of a name I knew he’d never heard.

You clever bastard. Like the consummate corporate boss, you play it off like you innately know everyone’s name. Ever. And you scare me.

How do you respond to a non-introduction like that? Don’t they teach us this stuff in school?

When I started at Roundpeg, I had no true networking experiences under my belt. During college, I ignored most sponsored events and seminars meant to provide a baseline of experience to undergrads. I had papers to write and re-runs of “Firefly” to watch while surfing Facebook. Certainly I had no time for awkward small-talk with professors.

However, the real world quickly dispossessed me of those fantasies. One trip to Verge, a showcase for the Indy start up community, told me that the smartest people and best opportunities were right here. And they weren’t waiting for my TV episode to finish. I learned that we have to network to stay fresh and to get our name and face in front of other companies and potential clients.

My key lessons from swimming in these new waters:

  • Make a short list of networking events. Ask around at your workplace. What are your peers doing?
  • The hardest thing: Go. Get out of the car, walk in the building and sign in.
  • Once you’re there, find someone to talk to. Doesn’t matter who, really. Start somewhere.
  • Don’t eat The Rathskeller‘s (delicious) spicy mustard at an event where you’re not supposed to cry.
  • Battle your awkwardness with preparation. If you know who will present or who will attend, come with a few topics to talk about.

What are your networking survival tips? Got any good stories? Share ’em in the comments.