You’re not alone if you’re nervous about going to networking events. They can be a little awkward, drag on too long, or not be worth your time. But networking events are also great opportunities to make strong connections and sell yourself or your business. Here’s what you need to know before you head to your first event!
How to Prepare:
If you show up to an event without doing your homework you won’t find as much success! First, be sure to research the event and who will be attending. Then you can prepare a couple of talking points that will be relevant to your audience. Additionally, think about what you are going to wear. You want to look professional but still feel like yourself. Your favorite business suit or dress is a perfect choice. And be sure you wear comfortable shoes!
And lastly, set a goal for what you want to accomplish at the event. You may want to challenge yourself to talk to ten different people or collect a certain number of business cards. Whatever you feel is a realistic, and achievable goal for you is what you should aim for. Don’t feel pressured to achieve someone else’s standard.
While You’re There
You should aim to arrive to the event either early or right on time. This gives you the opportunity to network with everyone else as they arrive, and you can meet and get to know the host of the event right away.
While at the event, make sure you introduce yourself with a firm handshake and lots of confidence. Don’t hang around someone until they notice you, be bold and make the first move! When a conversation gets going, be sure to listen first, then speak. People love to talk about themselves and you’ll learn much more by listening and asking good questions than by talking over someone else.
When talking with someone, be sure to show genuine interest in what they are saying and ask questions to show you are listening. Ask things like, “why do you like working at your company,” or “how did you get involved in your field.” These questions will lead to a more in-depth conversation and create a memorable connection.
Finally, take notes! You’ll meet a lot of people at a networking event so you won’t be able to remember everything everyone said. After you leave a conversation, make a note in your phone or on their business card of who they were and what they said. This will be invaluable after the event.
After the Event:
The first thing you want to do after the event is follow up with the connections you made. Go through the business cards you collected or the list of names you got and request to connect on LinkedIn. Send a note with the connect request stating that it was great to meet them. If you want to be a pro, mention something that you talked about with them at the event. Be sure to do this soon after the event, so you both remember the conversation!
Also, if you made a great connection with someone who could advance your career or works in a field you are looking to move into, ask to set up an informational interview with them. This is an excellent way to learn more about an industry or company and strengthen a connection. Offer to treat them to coffee or lunch and they will likely be more than happy to meet.
With these tips in mind, you will absolutely ace your next networking event!
Ready to start looking for your next opportunity? Visit our job board!