Danny Beyer solves our networking nightmares

Published on February 17th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

If you want to learn how to meet people, impress strangers and make connections, Danny Beyer is a guy you should know.

The self-described “master networker” and Young Professionals Connection YP of the Year has been winning friends and influencing people in West Des Moines and beyond for years now.

That’s no doubt why YPC asked Beyer to host a Networking 101 session this Thursday at 5:45 at the Keg Stand. The costs just $5 to attend and is free for group members, but the contact-developing skills Beyer imparts just might be priceless.

Ahead of the class this week, I tried to stump Beyer with some well-known networking nightmares. Here are his expert answers:

Q: I often find myself trapped at events in a lingering conversation with another person that just won’t end. We both know there’s nothing more to say, but don’t want to offend the other person by ending the exchange. How do you get out of that without seeming like a jerk?

Beyer: “My usual go-to is typically food or drink. You can finish your drink and say ‘I’m going to go get another one, it was nice chatting with you!’ The person you’re talking to isn’t going to feel offended. If you’re not eating or drinking, you can always pass them off to someone else who might be around that you know. Or the other great ender is exchanging a business card. It’s kind of a universal — ‘Hey, I’m done talking. Let’s connect later.’ Those are my three go-tos.”

Let’s say I’d like join a group of super cool/important/influential people chatting together at an event without coming off as totally uncool. What’s your advice?

“It typically depends on the surroundings. If it’s a business event, I don’t ever hesitate from jumping in. Everyone’s there to network. If it’s a social or nonprofit function, it might not be the time and place. The second way is that if you know a power player is going to be there and you have a mutual connection, you can ask the mutual connection for an introduction through the night.

“The other thing I’ve found: Flattery really does get you everywhere. Just introducing yourself and saying ‘I’ve been dying to meet you. Can we chat for a second?’ That always works.”

It seems like most networking events have delicious appetizers. I want to eat them all, because they’re usually free and delicious, but feel awkward doing so while chatting in mixed company. Can I have my cheese plate and network, too? 

“My tip: If you plan on eating, arrive early. Because it’s really awkward to network while you’re holding food or figuring out whether you can take a bite and talk to somebody.”

What’s the most awkward food to eat at networking events, then?

“Meatballs or shrimp with cocktail sauce. That never ends well, especially for guys or girls who are wearing white shirts.”


About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at jhafner@registermedia.com or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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