Active vs Passive Networking

One of the mistakes beginning networkers make is waiting for everyone else to take the first step. They hand out their cards and then sit by the phone, waiting for it to ring. Now, it does happen, once in a great while, but, really, the best networking relationships won’t happen unless you take the first step.

Let’s look at some passive behaviors and their more effective active counterparts.

Passive: Handing out your business card.
Active: Asking for their business card.

Passive: Waiting for them to call
Active: Making the call

Passive: Hoping to schedule a coffee when you get home after the event.
Active: Getting them on the schedule while still at the event.

Passive: Listening for their story
Active: Asking for their story.

Passive: Hoping to meet someone at an event.
Active: Inviting someone to an event.

Passive: Going to an event
Active: Going to an event with a goal in mind.
Passive: Joining a group
Active: Participating in a group

Always remember that active networking has nothing to do with selling. This is about making connections and strengthening relationships.

The good news is with active networking, it’s all up to you. Why is that good?

Because you can do something about it.

So go out and get active. Waiting for your relationships to build themselves is not on the pathway to networking success. Putting out your hand and saying “Hello” is.

Photo credit: quinn.anya


About Greg Peters

Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at or


  1. You are so right that it's important to be an "active" networker. It takes more time and effort than just waiting for people to call with opportunities, but the benefits are much greater.

    For exainple, there are several benefits from "Participating in a group." You raise yourself into a small group of leaders within the organization. And, you have the opportunity for others to experience the quality of your work more frequently. Both of these are valuable in turning contacts into beneficial relationships.

  2. Good point, Cliff.

    I'm constantly surprised by people who are disappointed that they didn't get any new business from joining a group when they never even attended any of the meetings! Attending the meetings, in my opinion, is the minimum you should do. Far better to roll up your sleeves and get to work supporting the group.

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