Mingle Like You Mean It

Mingle Like You Mean It

Mingle like you mean it in 2016!

Are you preparing for a career fair reception during Spring Semester? An event at a state, regional or national conference? Some other occasion? Here are a few tips taken from a presentation we give to students to help you mingle like you mean it at your next networking event.

What’s your goal? For example, at previous conferences, I’ve set a goal to meet at least two college members who work with engineering students or with helping students articulate their global experiences. Those are two of my areas of responsibility and I want to hear best practices others may have to share.


Trialogue. Huh? Let’s say I meet an employer at a career fair reception who is trying to find liberal arts students for a current opening. I go looking for my colleague who works with students in that college on our campus so she can point the employer in the right direction. That’s a trialogue. You find out what someone you meet is seeking and connect them to a contact you know or just met who could help them.

Who can you to talk to? Do you see any loners? They are good people to walk up to and start a conversation. Or join a group and wait for a break in the conversation. And, if you notice someone joining your group, be sure you invite that person into the discussion. If you see a couple in conversation, keep walking, as their discussion might be private.


Good-bye. Know when to say it. Remember, you are trying to mingle, so after you’ve visited with someone for about ten minutes, ask for a business card, explaining you’re departing TO: try the food, find a colleague, get a drink, find the rest room or make a phone call. Be sure you do whatever you say.

Follow up. A major benefit of attending a conference, reception or other event is the contacts we make whom we can call in a month or two to find out more about the majors a particular employer seeks or about that great product students really like that your office is considering.

Try these suggestions at your next event and watch your mingling improve.

These tips are based on information shared from the following sources:

Judith Bowman. Don’t Take the Last Donut: New Rules of Business Etiquette.

Deborah H. Jacobs. How to work a room like you own the place. http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2012/02/29/how-to-work-a-room-like-you-own-the-place/

Alex Mandossian. How to Network At Business Events. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBOTqM1KFWw&feature=player_detailpage

Susan RoAne. How to Work a Room: A Guide to Successfully Managing the Mingling. Newest book: How to Work a Room, 25th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections–In Person and Online

Devora Zack. Networking for People Who Hate Networking.


Claire Childress, Senior Assistant Director, Career Services AuxiliaryClaire Childress, Virginia Tech Career Services Senior Assistant Director for Job Search and Graduate School Preparation advises students and leads a team of advisors and a portfolio of services and programs. Prior to over 19 years at Virginia Tech, she worked in distance education and as an adjunct faculty member at New River Community College, as a healthcare marketer and as a banker. A former President of the Virginia Association of Colleges and Employers, Claire currently serves as SoACE Director of Professional Development. She writes regularly for her career advising blog,CareerChasse. Connect with Clair at childrec@vt.edu or on LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “Mingle Like You Mean It”

  1. Great ideas here, Claire! I like the thought of approaching a reception objectively. If I can think of it as a task to complete, I don’t get overwhelmed by all the people.

    1. I agree Charlie! If I have a task or a job to do during a networking event, it is much easier for me to mingle and strike up conversations. -Meaghan

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