Meeting people face to face may be old-school, but it still works.

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In the business world, what’s old is new again.

Social networking isn’t a bad way to meet new colleagues, clients and customers. But here’s an even fresher way: retro-networking.

Retro-networking is all about meeting and greeting people face to face—and finding new and interesting ways to forge professional connections with people who can further your career or business. And, because retro-networking doesn’t get as much buzz as social networking does, it’s surprisingly effective.

Here are six ways to work it into your routine:

1. Philanthropize

Meet well-connected people by getting involved with nonprofit organizations, art and history museums, historical societies, or botanical gardens, to name a few. Volunteer for a core committee, such as fund-raising or events planning.

Your good deeds will get noticed and could ultimately lead to new client and customer referrals. You’ll also have a chance to polish new skills and attend great parties. That’s a win-win-win-win.

2. Leave home

Travel opens up fabulous business networking opportunities. Buy an airline club membership (or even just a one-day pass) and strike up a conversation in the airport club lounge with a bored-looking businessperson.

Hotel lounges are also easy spots to meet someone new; scope out someone sitting alone and ask if you can join him. Before your trip, book a golf game at your destination with fellow business travelers using an online golf club.

3. Plug in to a “connector”

At your next party or gathering, look around and locate the man or woman who seems super confident, is surrounded by people jostling for his or her attention, and seems to know them all by name. That’s the connector.

The connector is masterful at winning friends, introducing people and networking. Find a way to introduce yourself to the connector and you’ll gain access to a whole new community.

4. Link up from LinkedIn

If your name appears as “Anonymous” on LinkedIn when you check out someone else’s profile, they won’t know you stopped by. That’s a lost opportunity.

Instead, set your profile so your name shows up when you look people up. If you have a repeat visitor, view it as a professional compliment and get in touch. The invitation to meet face-to-face is a meaningful gesture that can generate a new professional contact.

5. Break bread with others

Everybody has to eat, so why waste a great networking opportunity by noshing at home or alone? Invite colleagues to have breakfast, lunch, or dinner with you. They’ll value the one-on-one time and attention, and you’ll at least make a new friend.

6. Make dates with schoolmates

Getting back in touch with your fellow alumni is smart. Sign up for the alumni newsletter from your high school, college, or business school. Here you’ll learn about networking events nearby and in cities where you travel for business. At these events, you won’t be a stranger once you introduce yourself as a fellow alumna/us.

Vicky Oliver has written five best-selling career development books, including her newest book on branding, The Millionaire’s Handbook: How to Look and Act Like a Millionaire, Even If You’re Not. She lives in Manhattan, where she helps people turn around their careers and their lives.


  1. Stephen Q Shannon

    Ignore Vicky Oliver’s volunteered tips at your peril. Sure the one about seeking to join someone sitting alone in a hotel lounge might be daunting. As Harvey Mackay says, “Use Your Head To Get Your Foot In The Door” also the name of one of his recent books. Common sense at all times shall prevail. Thanks Vicky. sQs Delray Beach FL.

  2. Leadership Channel

    Lots of great common-sense tips here! Thanks!

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  7. Zhenhuan Zhou

    Good advice, better to execute them well.

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