How to be Effective at In-person Networking

The Seattle Chamber of Commerce (SCC) networking event, held Tuesday at the Space Needle, was timed perfectly to coincide with happy hour. Unlike the SCC breakfasts where attendees arrive, knuckling sleep out of their eyes, and head to the nearest coffee dispenser in an attempt to wake up and rally their still-groggy social skills, the Business After Hours events are abuzz with after-work energy.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

This event was held on the banquet level of the Space Needle, about a 15-second elevator ride from the base. An unexpected surprise was that the entrance ticket also allowed attendees the opportunity to take another 30-second ride to the top of the Needle.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

We work amid a professional scene that thrives on the accessibility and ease of social media via sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. But despite the worldwide reach of these platforms, there’s still something to be gained from eye contact, a firm handshake, and the spontaneity of the in-person exchange. In fact, most businesses grow markedly from person-to-person contact and building professional relationships through the opportunities provided by social events.

© Fire Eyes Photography

At Fire Eyes, we attend a lot of special events and networking events. As people and as business professionals, we know what we appreciate and value in our interactions. We also know what’s needed to capture great exchanges when we photograph events. There is a dynamic energy that feels almost tangible when you see people making a genuine connection.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

At this event, we encountered individuals that did a good job touching on some of the cornerstones of effective networking.

  • Chieko Watanabe, Business Coach/Owner of Dominate Your Business. Chieko is a longtime business coach and a newer attendee to SCC events, but she knows networking is an effective means for garnering new clients. Networking skills is one of the many tools Chieko teaches to her own clientele. Chieko’s site has a wonderful blog, video tutorials, as well as description of her services. We appreciated Chieko’s positive energy and effective way of talking about her business, as well as her being genuinely interested in our own.

Chieko Watanabe © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

  • Kelly Kolstad, Financial Consultant, D.A. Davidson & Company. Kelly is a good example of being yourself when networking and he is someone who remembers if he has met you at a prior event. It can be a bit awkward when you have to skip a couple of beats to look at a person’s nametag. Make eye contact, be engaging, and subtly glance down if you need a refresher on the person’s name or if you can’t remember where they work. Kelly works in the financial industry and he effectively shared information about his complimentary portfolio analysis and was happy to offer thoughts when asked about a major upcoming IPO. He was sociable and business-focused without being all business.
  • Justin Richardson, Founder & Director of Business Development for Justin gets our show and tell gold star for the night. Justin had his smartphone in hand to illustrate Unsocial, the app that he and his colleagues designed to facilitate in-person social networking. Unsocial syncs your LinkedIn information and is a location based check-in app that allows you to see what people are in your vicinity. Your information shows who you are and what you do and/or what services you’re in the market for. If you’re not in the market for a service, remember to get that person’s information because it might be of help to a friend or associate. Justin brought props! His informative demonstration of his app, coupled with giving us his business card made an impression.

We finished the evening’s event by riding up the elevator to take in the of post-sunset views of our gorgeous city. The Sound, downtown, and glimpses of the necklace of mountains that halo our beautiful region were an enjoyable way to cap off another successful networking event.

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

We look forward to seeing you at upcoming events! You can also hire us to photograph and/or write about your next corporate or social event.

~Trishann Couvillion, Owner,  Fire Eyes Photography (on Twitter @fire_eyes)

About Trishann Couvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & headshots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Bill Gates, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @
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