For most people, networking is a necessary nightmare. We all know and understand the importance of meeting other people in our fields for our future career development, but the actual process of going out and making those connections can be daunting.
1. Keep your goals in mind…
Before you even get to the event, take some time to think about your priorities and goals: what do you hope to get from the event? Are you networking for yourself or are you representing your business? Are you job searching? Looking for a mentor or a coach? These questions will help shape the way you seek out and interact with potential connections.
2. …but be generous with your attention.
Be goal oriented, but don’t let your goals 100% dictate the way you behave. Professionalism is key in networking: you never know which connections end up impacting your life. Developing the skill of politely extricating yourself from conversations will come in handy in these sorts of situations!
3. It looks good to be prepared.
Arguably one of the most important tips for networking: come prepared. Think about they way you want to present yourself to a room of your peers. If you feel like you belong, you will be so much more comfortable interacting with the other participants. Dress appropriately for the event you’re attending. (Is it casual? professional?) Bring enough business cards. (Writing your email on scrap paper won’t cut it!) Practice your elevator pitch. (Keep it short, sweet, and memorable)
4. Actively Listen
This might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. When you’re networking, pay attention the the person who is talking to you at that moment — actively listen and participate in that conversation. It’s so easy for us to turn off the minute we stop talking to scan the room looking for our next target, but that is not what networking is for. Networking is about listening and connecting based on similar needs. How will you know others’ needs if you’re not paying attention?
5. Follow up
After the event is over and you get to go home, it’s easy to forget about everything that happened the previous 1+ hours. Follow up and follow through. Just because you spoke to somebody once at a networking event does not make them a new contact. If you felt a connection, try to contact them within 48 hours to a week after the event so you’ll still be fresh in their mind. Don’t wait for people to contact you.
Networking doesn’t have to be a scary affair. Being ready and prepared make a world of difference in these situations. If you have done the work beforehand to set yourself up for success, the actual networking event will be a walk in the park!
With these tips in your arsenal, you’re ready to go out and conquer your next networking event!
For more info on networking, read the articles below!
Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality?
How Successful Women Network for Their Career and Business
Networking from a PowerHouse woman!
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