Whenever possible, read up on the speakers and guest list of any event you are considering attending. "I don't walk into a networking room ill-prepared," says Hoey, in an email with CNBC. "My advice is to always research the event or group or speaker in advance. On that, I leverage online tools (social media, blogs, podcasts) before I even RSVP to see who else is attending."
By doing your homework, you are better able to set an attainable goal for yourself. "I always like to know why I am in the 'networking' room before I enter the room. It may be to gain information or hear a particular speaker or to seek out a specific contact. Knowing why you have made the choice to be in the room is the first step in easing the pain of networking," says Hoey.