Los Angeles Chapter  California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

Los Angeles Chapter — CAMFT

Guest Author

10/31/2019 2:00 PM | Mike Johnsen (Administrator)

Karen Wulfson,

Extending Your Reach:
Useful Tips for Making the Best Use
of Professional Networking Events

Does this sound familiar? You’ve decided to attend a professional meeting or other event this month or next maybe! Or you really would like to sign up, if you could only figure out how to have more fun and be more at ease with making all those connections. Or maybe you’ve been to one or more events, and just need to be reminded that this networking thing can actually be enjoyable.

If you’ve ever chatted with me about inperson networking (as opposed to that sort of remote online version!), you might know that this is something I actually enjoy. I love the connections I make, and I’m energized and motivated by hearing what others are doing. And I especially value the professional colleagues and personal friendships I’ve added to my lifejust from participating in that strange activity called networking!

While I find that networking enriches my life, I do know that others may view that very word with annoyance, unease, fear or even dreadperceiving that activity in much the same way as they might view undergoing an extremely unpleasant medical procedure!

While I’m pretty sure that if you feel so put off by the very thought of all this professional schmoozing, you’ll most like never truly love that activity, I’m equally sure that you can help yourself to like it just a little bit more! And, to that end, I invite you to keep reading for some tips about how to get the most value from those networking events.


  1. If there’s a literature table, create a simple flyer.
    Include your practice location, contact information, specialties, other languages you speak, etc. Include an invitation to call you for more info or to share your professional experiences in more depth.
  2. Arrive as early as possible.
    Early arrivers can avoid the crowds and have more time to relax and mingle with others who get there early. Getting there early also gives you a chance to save a seat where you’ll be most comfortable.
  3. Hang out after the event.
    Offer to participate in literature cleanup; chat with the presenter; followup with those who’ve made announcements; and be sure to thank those who’ve given so much time to making the event work.
  1. In networking conversations, listen and ask questions more than you talk about yourself.
    Your goal is to gather information about your colleagues, make connections, discover resources, find commonalities from which you can build future professional relationships. You’ll have plenty of time (in the moment or by following up) to let others know who you are and what you do.  
  2. Offer to get involved in future event preparation.
    This is a great way to meet others, while also having a specific task to do. You might find that the very process of being involved enhances your networking and increases your professional and personal connections.
  3. If you’re feeling brave enough, take advantage of time that may be allotted for participant announcements.
    Use the available time to let others know just one important thing about you. Maybe you are fluent in another language, have an interest or specialty that’s unique, announce an upcoming workshop, have a special client population, etc. And the better prepared you are and the more interesting your announcement is, the more likely you are to get some followup contacts.
  4. Be prepared with lots of business cards to exchange with others,
    Both at your table and with those you meet on a food line, at the literature table, and at checkin. Or just on the way to the restroom!
  5. Pay attention to any announcementsby leadership or attendees.
    Note those folks who sound interesting and follow up within the next day or two with a “meet for coffee or a meal” suggestion.
  6. Collect literature that has interesting content or mentions a specialty in which you might be interested.
    Then follow up with that person.
  7. Decide that it’s OK to be on a variety of email lists (after all, you do have a delete key if needed!).
    You’re likely to be invited to some low cost or nocost networking or CEU events. Go to as many as possible—lots of potential new colleagues and friends at these events. And lots of opportunity to be the one others want to get to know!
  8. Return to an organization’s events at least a few times.
    Connections are best made with those we see frequently. And the people I see regularly are the ones most likely to receive my referrals. Sort of that “out of sight, out of mind” mentality most of us tend to have.



Everything above applies to you!

  1. If you don’t have business cards, make some to distribute at events. All you need to have is your name, phone number, and email address. And, if you like, note your prelicensed status. (Students/trainees: not a bad idea to include the name of your school, since you’ll draw the attention of those who graduated from that institution!)
  2. Associates, even if you are not currently seeing clients, include your registration number on your cards. And any special areas of related experience, other languages you speak, anything else that makes you stand out. This is especially important if you’re actively looking for a supervisor.
  3. Arrive with the attitude that you are our colleague and not “just” a student, trainee, or associate! While you won’t be expected to have lots of experience, you’ll feel more comfortable if you participate in the conversations. And you’ll find lots of therapists are interested in supporting you on the way to licensure. Your questions can be a valuable part of your networking experience.
  4. Follow up! Follow up! Follow up! And attend events whenever you can.The connections you make now will serve you well in the months and years ahead. The time to start that search for an internship is when you’re a studentnot when you need that job next month!

This article originally appeared in the LA-CAMFT newsletter, the LA Therapist Update, in the May/June 2012 edition, and has been updated for this issue of Voices. 

Karen Wulfson, LMFT, has a private practice in Beverly Hills, where she helps clients communicate more effectively to reduce conflict, anger, stress in their lives. Karen works primarily with professional men and encourages involvement of family members in client sessions. Karen has previously been extensively involved on the Board of LACAMFT, as VicePresident and Event Coordinator, and was CoChair of the Santa MonicaWest LA District of AAMFT. Contact Karen through her website: www.karenwulfson.com.

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