Breakfast Events

Upside: Early-morning events are popular among higher-level executives and decision makers eager to get a jump on the day.
Downside: Breakfasts are often sit-down affairs without much time for working the room.
Don¹t forget to... Snag a seat at the table where your desired contact is sitting, suggests Linc Miller, a networking coach and general manager at Greg Nanigian & Associates, a sales and management training firm in Braintree, Massachusetts.

Cocktail Parties

Upside: The informal format allows for the most schmoozing opportunities.
Downside: Happy hour events tend to draw younger crowds, so don¹t plan to meet many decision makers at cocktail parties.
Don¹t forget to... Stand near the bar, where people tend to congregate.

Seminars

Upside: The specific subject matter makes it easier to figure out if attendees are in your target audience.
Downside: Depending on the schedule of speakers, there may not be much time for mingling.
Don¹t forget to... Prepare beforehand and ask smart questions.

Trade Association

Upside: Trade events draw a high concentration of like-minded businesspeople.
Downside: Competition may be stiff.
Don¹t forget to... Call event coordinators ahead of time and find out as much as possible about the other people expected to attend, including names of specific companies and executives.

Community Groups (Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, etc.)

Upside: Attending community events is a good way to establish a local client base and practice networking.
Downside: Local events may not be worthwhile if you¹re eager to expand your client base.
Don¹t forget to... Arrive early and stay late to avoid cliques.