Networking is one of the most polarizing topics in the professional world. You either love it and it gives you energy, or you hate it and it totally drains you. There’s really no in-between.
If you’re someone who loves networking, you’re more than likely naturally extroverted, therefore, socializing comes naturally to you. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, you may consider yourself an introvert, in which case networking may bring you a decent amount of anxiety.
Regardless of being an introvert, an extrovert, or however else you’d like to categorize yourself, there’s one simple way to make networking events an easier experience. Preparation. If you walk in (or virtually log in) to a networking event having come prepared, you’re bound to have smoother interactions and ultimately benefit from the whole experience. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of networking tips so you can network like a pro.
Networking Event Do’s
1. Prepare your elevator pitch
How do most conversations start at a networking event? “Tell me about yourself.” Instead of taking this opportunity to
Babble on and on, because you have no idea what you actually want to say, nor what details are appropriate to share, how far back into your resume you should go, or if you should add personal information to the conversation, or….
State your name and occupation as plainly as you would in an interview for TSA Precheck…
Take a breath and write down exactly what you’d like to say when introducing yourself. Include your name, your job, where you work (if this is an external event), and a little bit about what you do and why you love to do it. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but make yourself memorable.
2. Bring business cards
Or a digital option to easily give your contact information to attendees. You’re more than likely going to a networking event because you want to meet people that will somehow benefit you in the future. Make sure you get their information and give them yours.
3. Smile and listen
Creating connections is a natural human experience. We do it unconsciously on a daily basis by smiling at strangers in a restaurant, saying hello to your mailperson, or having a quick conversation with your Trader Joe’s cashier. You know how to do this, so don’t overcomplicate it. Remember the best connections are genuine. Ask questions about others that you’re genuinely interested in and avoid making each conversation transactional.
Networking Event Don’ts
1. Camp out
It’s easy to find a spot by the food or the bar at a networking event and stay there the whole time, especially if you are uncomfortable. But remember: you didn’t come here to eat. You’re attending this event in hopes to meet people, make connections, and hopefully grow your career in some way. The only way that’s going to happen is if you move about the room and strategically position yourself in front of people you want to meet.
2. Drink too much
It’s summertime in the Midwest and that means happy hours abound. It’s one of the go-to’s of networking events to host a happy hour and get people together in a relaxed atmosphere to help them open up. But the biggest mistake people make at these networking events is overdrinking. Know your limit and stick to it, regardless of the temptation of an open bar. You’re there to represent yourself as a professional and as much as your friends may love your drunken Taylor Swift karaoke, that may not be the same here…
3. Forget to follow up
Circling back to the reason you attended this event, you need to follow up with the connections you made. Send LinkedIn messages or emails and ask those people to grab a coffee and pick their brains on the topics they’re experts in. You found them interesting for a reason, dig in!
The more you network, the more comfortable you’ll be in those settings. And if you take the time to prep beforehand, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Looking for an opportunity to put your newfound skills to the test? Join us on June 7 from 5:00 pm-7:00 pm at The Brakeman in Detroit for a Happy Hour! Click below to register.