The importance of Networking
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11 Tips for your Networking Event
Networking is much more than showing up, grabbing some free snacks, and passing out and collecting business cards. It’s about building relations people, sharing who you are and what you do, and gaining some valuable contacts and information that you can use in your job search or at work in the future.
And to make the most of it, all it takes is a little preparation and practice. Here are some useful tips:
Before the event
- Have a Goal
Before you get to the event, ask yourself, “why am I going?” Knowing ahead of time what you’re hoping to accomplish will help you stay focused—not aimlessly wandering around.
- Dress properly
When you’re planning your outfit, pick something appropriate. You won’t make an impression (at least, not a good one) if you look dishevelled, disorganized, or overly casual. But also pick something that makes you feel good—a great dress or those new shoes you’ve been wanting to wear will help you exude confidence in what can be an uncomfortable setting.
- Bring enough Business Cards
This one seems basic, but I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen forget their cards or say “I just gave away my last one!” Bring more business cards than you think you’ll need, and keep a stack of them in a card case. This way, they won’t get dirty or crumpled in your purse, and you can grab them quickly—it’s much more professional to pull your card out of a case then go searching through your bag.
During the Event
- Make an Effective Introduction
When you meet someone new, introduce yourself by making eye contact, smiling, stating your first and last name, and giving a firm but brief handshake. Then, listen for the other person’s name (believe me, it’s easy to miss when you’re nervous), then use it two times while you’re speaking. This will not only help you remember her name, but also appear sincere and interested in the conversation.
- Listen First, then Speak
Here’s a networking secret: Let the other person speak first! Most people don’t realize this, but the person who talks about herself first is only being half listened to. But by asking the other person questions first, he’ll will be much more relaxed and focused when the conversation turns to you.
- Show Sincerity and Interest
Have a few good questions in your back pocket. Asking the other person about her background and work will show her that you’re interested in more than just your own job opportunities.
- Get to the Point
When it’s your turn to share what you do, state it in just 2-3 sentences. You can delve into greater detail later on, but people will lose interest very quickly if you can’t cut to the chase. Similarly, avoid using industry jargon. The key to effectively networking is to build rapport, so if someone can’t understand what you’re talking about, a connection won’t happen.
- Take Notes
You probably won’t remember the important details of every conversation, so it can be helpful to write them down. After mingling with a few people, find a corner of the room to subtly make notes on the back of each person’s business card about who she is, what you talked about, and any follow-up you want to do. Remember, the purpose of a networking event is to connect with people in the future, and this will make following up with them much, much easier.
After the Event
- Follow Up; 10 Follow up; 11 Follow up
A few days after the event, send follow-up emails to anyone you met that you’d like to continue networking with. Make sure to personalize each email, letting each person know you enjoyed meeting them and mentioning something that you talked about. A tip: One of the quickest ways to stop a connection is to send someone a generic LinkedIn invite.
Networking is a great tool, and by being prepared for the event, professional once you get there, and proactive with your follow-up, you can make sure you get the most out of it. Beyond that, just try to relax and have some fun!