Networking events are essential for career development and business opportunities. Whether you need to find a job, connect with certain employees or companies, or desire to collaborate on a project, networking events can facilitate your professional growth. Since it can connect you with the right people, it’s important to approach networking seriously and make the most of it. Here are six networking event tips how:
1. Be prepared
You’re going to meet people, so it’s best to be prepared to talk about who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for. You won’t look very professional if you’re stumbling over your words or taking too long to respond to a question. Be ready to discuss your career, aspirations, and experiences. Don’t forget to bring your resume if you’re looking to get hired, or your business cards if you need to distribute your contact information.
2. Find a way to stand out
You certainly won’t be the only person that the people at a networking event will talk to. Everyone will mingle throughout the evening and possibly have conversations with dozens of others at these events. Whether it’s finding a common interest with someone, sending a follow-up email within a few days, or having a firm handshake, it’s important for you to positively stand out to this person so that the people you connected with don’t forget you.
3. Ask good questions
Asking questions is beneficial not only because it’ll help you better understand a person or organization, but also because it’s the backbone of networking conversations. These conversations are fueled by inquiries, so try to ask the right questions when appropriate. It may help to do a little homework about a person or the company he or she works for beforehand. Try making a list of potential questions you could ask others before attending a networking event, that way you feel prepared.
4. Dress like a professional
You don’t have to dress like you’re going into an interview, but do everyone a favor and leave your oversized suit at home. Remember, you’ll be making a lot of first impressions when you’re networking. Make sure to have a clean overall appearance, and, just like in interviews, avoid wearing perfume or cologne. Keep your business cards in an easily accessible places. After all, you don’t want your new acquaintances watching you digging through piles of rubble in your bag.
5. Have a goal in mind
Don’t go to a networking event blindly. Ask yourself beforehand what you want to accomplish from meeting certain people. Looking for job opportunities? Have an elevator pitch memorized. Trying to collaborate on projects? Be ready to explain what you have to offer to their team. When you meet people, think of how they can help you carry out your plans and act accordingly.
6. Don’t forget your manners
It may be tempting to look around for an exit when you’re in a dead conversation, but remember to maintain a level of professionalism. When someone is talking, listen. If you want to end the conversation, end it politely rather than abruptly. Remember to ask just as many questions as you have answered. You don’t want to burn bridges with potential connections within the first five minutes of meeting them.
Networking is a powerful way to expand your professional connections and you should always take advantage of the opportunity to build your contacts. Understanding the right ways to prepare for them can help you set yourself apart from everyone else.