If you’re not a people person, attending a networking event is probably the last thing you want to do. However, if you’re in need of a new job, or feel stuck in a current role, networking is one of the many great ways to find new career opportunities. Luckily, we have some tips for you to make your first networking event a little less nerve-racking.
5 Tips Before Networking
Update your LinkedIn Profile
As soon as you sign up for a networking event, your name may be accessible to all others attending. If they aren’t looking you up before the event, there’s a strong possibility they may look you up shortly after on LinkedIn. Make sure all of your work history is up to date and your profile picture is professional and current so you don’t miss out on an opportunity to make your best impression.
And vice versa to the last tip, you should be researching attendees as well. Look to see who you may have a good connection with professionally based on their work history so you know who to seek out at the event. It is also smart to investigate the companies these people work for to see if there are any open positions you may be a good fit for. This will give you something to discuss or ask.
Make sure you have plenty of business cards, even more than you think you’ll need. If you’re just starting out, or currently unemployed without a business card, a resume will do. Bring everything neatly in either a business card box or a folder. You want to appear professional in every way possible. The people you are connecting with are meeting dozens of other people as well. If you don’t have something to give them to remind them of who you are, you’ll be forgotten.
Prepare a short and sweet introduction about yourself and practice it. When you’re already nervous, this isn’t just something that will come to mind on the fly. Beforehand, think of some ways to personalize your introduction to specific attendees. Also, brainstorm some professional small talk topics to avoid any awkward silences that may arise.
Before attending the event, remember why you’re going in the first place. Keep your goals in mind and go after them.
5 Tips During Networking
Try Going Alone
Going with a group of friends or co-workers may lead you to just talk among yourselves, which defeats the purpose. Going alone will force you to talk to new people.
Networking events can be noisy with a lot going on, but try to give all of your attention to the person you are talking to. Looking around will make it appear that you are disinterested causing you to lose the connection.
Sure, there could be hundreds of people at this event, but don’t look at it as speed dating. Coming out of a networking event with one solid connection is a win, so don’t rush the conversations that are going well.
Be Open Minded
Talk to people you normally wouldn’t. Don’t shrug someone off solely because they are from a different industry. There is something you can learn from everyone.
Don’t Be Selfish
Yes, you have goals going into this event, but don’t make it all about you. People will catch onto this fast and move on quickly. Find ways you and the people you are connecting with can help each other.
Go through the business cards you obtained and email those you had a connection with. Let them know you enjoyed meeting them and add a personal touch of something you two spoke about, such as a link to an article on a topic you discussed. LinkedIn is always a great follow up as well.
The more you network, the better you become at it! The first few may be a bust, but don’t be discouraged. After your first networking event, sign up for more to increase your chances of making that connection that will land you a great job.