How much "researching" should you do on the people you meet at a networking event/coffee chat?

Bigburneracc's picture
Rank: Baboon | 150

I've always wondered this and wanted to understand the process as a freshman so I don't potentially burn any bridges or come off as creepy.

I understand that the best way to network is to connect with them on topics other than work, so in preparation, how far would you look as to what the person's interests/hobbies are? Would it come off as creepy if you mentioned you saw where they worked/graduated on linkedin? What about as far as what genres of music they like that you may have found on their facebook?

The situation would be different depending on the environment you're in, so let's say that an alumni agreed to grab coffee with you. Would it be creepy to say at the meet(given that its your first time meeting in person), "hey I noticed you like X artist. I actually went to one of their concerts a while back."

Thanks in advance for the replies, a couple networking events coming up this fall/winter and I want to make a good first impression.

Comments (6)

Oct 21, 2014

In my mind this falls into the "if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer" category. If you think it might be too creepy, it probably is. Specifically, I think Linkedin is fair game, but directly referencing something you saw on a person's Facebook/Twitter would strike me as creepy. Then again, my privacy settings are set to the most private options on all social media so that definitely affects how I would perceive someone I don't know that well asking about something I "liked" on Facebook or tweeted about.

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Oct 21, 2014

I agree with where JPete318 draws the line. I've asked questions based on information from LinkedIn a few times (and never got negative responses at all to that), but wouldn't even consider basing a question off of creeping on someone's FB or Twitter.

Oct 21, 2014

I would probably feel a bit violated if you brought up stuff that was on my FB etc. Way too close for comfort for someone I don't know at all - think about it, if you FB creep on people, do you admit that you've done it?

Linkedin is fine

Oct 21, 2014

I wrote this in another post somewhat recently, but I try to find out all that I can about someone I'm meeting that I want something out of (I'm well beyond networking for my first job, I'm talking about when I speak to potential/existing investors I'm meeting, people I want to sell me their business, regulators, etc., but it works well and if you can master it early in lif, it's a good skill) and I try to steer the conversation to something I know about them. Not necessarily all 5 things I found out, but just one or two. Don't just bring up something out of the blue, such as one moment you're talking about DCF's and how absolutely cool and enthralling they are, then the next moment you say "hey, I'm really into Steampunk fandom and was thinking about touring this summer with the Dr. Who fanboy club" because you read that they're actually a fetishist Steampunker on their FB page, but if you can bring up hobbies, and they mention Steampunk (fat chance), sea kayaking, spelunking, whatever, just learn enough about it to feign an interest and ask them about it, how you get into it and it'll open up the conversation. People like to talk about their interests. They'll remember you because you'll have stood out from every other person.

Oct 21, 2014

@"Dingdong8" is totally right. If you have a common interest, weave it into the conversation, or steer the conversation into something they are really into. That's the key. Get people talking about what they like...

I personally think LinkedIn and Google are fair game (usually limit 1-2 pages). And I have definitely admitted it as well. You can just pick something out from their LinkedIn and google it. Sometimes I start the conversation with it. So if they lived in HK before (I live in HK now, hence why I chose it), you could say hey or whatever, and then be like, man what's going on in HK?! I just read in the news... I've never been but my friends have and.. Then the guy usually picks up and runs off with it (sometimes this doesn't happen), but it works most of the time. For this, it has to be a broad topic though...

Oct 21, 2014