Everyone knows the importance of networking, but not everyone knows how best to go about it. Here is some advice from career experts on how to make the most of a networking event.
This is important. If you want to do networking at events, you need to first of all consider the people you want to meet – whether clients, colleagues, potential employers, or others. Then you need to think about what types of events these people are likely to be at. You also need to consider the type of event you feel most comfortable going to, whether it is designed more as a social gathering, or something more work oriented, like a conference, for example. How many events do you want to attend? One a week, a month?
Career advisors suggest scheduling fewer events because you are more likely to attend them, rather than scheduling a lot and not going.
Other things to consider include appropriate attire – casual or professional. Think about what you want to accomplish at a particular event – the number of people you want to talk to and number of follow ups. If there is a list of people attending that is circulated before the event, you should check it to see whom you know and send them a note telling them that you look forward to seeing them.
Also, if there is someone whom you would like to meet, do some research on the person to help make a connection when you see him or her.
How to Make an Introduction
At some events, there is a formal introduction period, where each person is given a minute or two to talk about themselves. At other events, you need to introduce yourself to others individually.
In either case, you need to craft something that will be engaging. You should avoid simply giving a job title because this really doesn’t say anything. Focus, rather, on what you do to solve problems for your clients or company.
It may be helpful to arrive at the event early because fewer groups will have formed, and you may have more time to make introductions.
After an introduction, avoid immediately jumping into a conversation about work topics. Take some time to connect with small talk – about sports, family, or something similar.
Before moving on, be sure to specify what the next step will be, whether you will get together again, or contact each other by telephone, or through LinkedIn.