The Ins and Outs of Networking

When was the last time you attended a networking event? For many, networking can be stressful and anxiety-inducing. While talking to strangers can be intimidating, the more you practice, the easier it will be.

Follow these tried-and-true tips to help you navigate your next networking opportunity and build your personal and professional development:

Stay in your comfort zone

Once you’re at an event, avoid talking only with people you know. While it might seem like the comfortable thing to do, by only staying around those you know, you’re missing out on meeting new people – especially if you’re looking for a new job or someone to collaborate with.

Attend relevant events

Don’t just go to any event that’s offered. Instead, think about those that are appropriate to your field of pharmacy, practical so you can attend, and pertinent to your future work.

Once you’re at the conference, select sessions to attend based on topics that interest you or great speakers you admire. Make your networking strategic by liaising with other team members so that the important events are covered.

Prepare carefully

Get everything ready beforehand if you know you’ll be networking at a conference. What’s your objective? Are you wanting to network generally or to meet certain people?

Grab a conference brochure and map and decide what events or talks you’d like to attend. Familiarize yourself with the layout of the exhibition space and refreshments. Find out where delegates might be so that you can go and talk to them.

Start a conversation

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed and nervous when you’re expected to network with strangers. How do you start up a conversation with someone you’ve never met? The easiest way is to just walk up to them and introduce yourself. Tell them your name and what organization you’re representing. Then, make small talk before you dive into shop talk.

Point out any relevant links between their roles and your own. This will highlight how they might be useful as a contact for your organization, and how others you may know can help them. Always listen actively and maintain good eye contact. Positive body language is key – keep your body turned toward the person speaking and paraphrase what they’re saying so they know you’re invested in what they’re saying.

Move on

When you’re ready to draw the conversation to a close, use a combination of body language, actions, and words. Don’t ask permission to leave; instead, inform them that you are leaving. Say something like, “I’ve enjoyed chatting with you; however, I need to go speak with another colleague now.”

Be sure to exchange business cards, discuss whether a follow-up email is required, and invite them to stay in touch through social media. If you take a business card from someone, be sure to write a note on the back about what you talked about and any details.

Follow up

If you are engaged in a specific area, it’s highly doubtful that everything you’d like to know will be covered in just one event. So, be sure to make contact with people you can follow up with afterwards. If you’re working in a certain field or location, it’s quite likely you’ll run into the same people at later events.

Increasing your contacts will make you feel much more comfortable down the road, as you’ll most likely run into the same people at future events and will already have something to talk about.

At any event, there will always be a range of people, from the regulars to the newbies. If you’re one of the latter, you’re not alone. Take a deep breath, prepare beforehand, and make the effort once you’re there. It may not always work out the way you had hoped, but that’s okay. You’re on the right track, and it’ll be much smoother the next time.

A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and owned by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited secondary wholesaler with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles