Networking Part II: The Key to Networking: Mindset and Goals
March 3, 2023
Today we continue our series with networking advice from executive women whose experiences range from consulting to law to tech, luxury fashion, healthcare, and more.

Catch up on why you’re not alone in dreading networking - and learn more about the backgrounds of each of the women featured in this series here.

Our experts agree that networking success happens when you focus on two things: mindset and goals.


“I used to be so sad when I knew no one, and then I realized that lots of people know no one.” Christina Lewis relates. The theme continues: you’re not alone. “So I try to just spark convos with people and kind of be interested in them and whoever they are and just let go of my ‘agenda,’ even though of course I have an agenda – but I try not to let it swamp the human element.”

Shii Ann Huang supports leading with humanity. “Practice being present with the one or two people you connect with at the event rather than scanning the room for "more important" people. There is nothing more off-putting than talking to a networker who is not listening. Time is precious, so try to make one deep connection rather than 15 forgettable ones in one evening”

“I've noticed that when I skip the small talk and head straight for, ‘Have you ever experienced XYZ challenge?’ networking events become way more personal and you end up getting a lot more out of the conversations you have. Rather than dreading the ‘small talk,’ just keep it short and get brave by opening up with vulnerabilities.” Katie Taylor advises prioritizing authentic connection over small talk, chit chat, and niceties.

If you’re still struggling to jump in, Randi Mason encourages again reminding yourself that you’re simply not alone. “As a start, remind yourself that everyone is likely as uncomfortable as you are. Look for people on the fringes, those standing alone at a cocktail table or lingering over the cheese platter. Hover near them and make the smallest of small talk — comment on the last speaker, compliment their bracelet. They will probably welcome the interaction.”

In preparing to attend a networking event, don’t overthink it. Laurie Barlev likens the experience to fitness. “Don't think about whether you should or shouldn't go. Try to avoid all inner dialogue that may convince you that you shouldn't go. It is like exercise. If I wake up and just go workout, I am much more successful than if I get up, lie in bed for a while, and think about how much I want to work out.”

She continues, introducing the second key to successful networking: goals.


“I would also reposition the networking into thinking of it as an adventure to meet new people and establish very concrete but achievable goals. Agree with yourself that you will meet at least two new people. Once you do that, decide whether you want to stay.”

Alice Myerhoff chimes in with support for the goal-based approach. “Even though I have a long career in sales, I'm not a gregarious networker at events or parties. When I have an event to go to, I will set a goal for myself - something reasonable and not scary. For example, I tell myself that I will meet 3 new people, and I might even have specific people in mind. I used this trick as recently as 2 weeks ago.” She shares how successfully the tactic worked at this recent event. “I've been thinking about targeting German startups and helping them expand in the United States since I'm German American and speak German fluently… I managed to get myself an RSVP to a pitchfest held by a German Accelerator. I didn't know anyone else going and my attempts to scare up a +1 resulted in 0. Before I went to the event, I decided that I would meet at least 3 people and would specifically try to meet someone in charge of the accelerator, since they could potentially help me connect with the startups in their portfolio. I felt awkward at the event but committed to my goal. I introduced myself to a few people who were standing around by themselves. I think they were grateful that I approached them. I met two of the entrepreneurs who were presenting and I met the local director of the accelerator and have since had a meeting with her.”

Laurie Barlev, Randi Mason, and Katie Taylor all suggest keeping it simple, attainable, and pressure-free.

“I think you have to keep in mind what your goal is for the networking event. Are you going to try to meet 3 people or find 2 leads?” Prompts Laurie. “Make sure you achieve that goal and then do whatever else you feel like doing.”

“Set a goal to make three good contacts you’d follow up on.” suggests Randi. “After you meet the goal, you’re done. You can go home... Time is our most valuable asset… Don’t feel compelled to be the first to arrive and the last to leave, and to sit through every speaker and roundtable. Set your goal and once you’ve hit it, leave or step outside and take care of some work.”

A goal-centered mindset and leading with humanity don’t need to be – and shouldn’t be – mutually exclusive, reminds Katie. “If you enter into a networking opportunity with only one goal in mind, to sell or get ahead, it's likely you'll walk away defeated. However, if you walk into the opportunity with a mindset of ‘what can I learn from this person?’ you're more likely to walk away with a new relationship.”

Lauren Lyddon has helped people and organizations to tell their stories for more than a decade. Having tested her love of the creative through the pursuit of an MBA and undergraduate business degrees, she is a writer, editor, and lover of fiction in all its forms (especially theatre, well-written television, and novels). A West coast resident often operating on an East coast schedule, Lauren uses her business background and love of story to serve clients in writing, editing, PR, and more. You can visit her online at



/*video overlay play button*/