Many people only start thinking about attending a networking event when they embark on their next job search. When they do actually attend a networking event, they feel pressured to get something out of it and feel disappointed when they don’t get a lead on a job opening. If that’s your purpose of attending a networking event, stay home and browse job boards – you’ll be more successful in accomplishing the goal of applying to job opening.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to meet new people, bounce ideas, or gain insight about a company or industry while also having a good time, then certainly attend as many networking events as you possibly can. You will also find networking events are much more fun once you become a regular and start running into some familiar faces.
Here are 13 easy steps to follow to get the most out of a networking event:
- Set a goal
Perhaps your goal is to make a meaningful connection with someone, add 5 people to your network, or maybe it’s to gain industry knowledge. Pick one goal follow through with it.
- Know how to introduce yourself
I would suggest crafting a 15-20 second elevator pitch about who you are, what you do, and why it’s important. Make it personal, strong, and memorable. Don’t over-rehearse it before the event; keep it natural.
- Bring your business card
If you would like to continue having a relationship after the event is over, you need to ensure that you’ll be able to be contacted. The most professional way of doing this? Giving out your business card. Do not hand out your resume! A networking event is not the correct place to do that.
- Introduce yourself to the host
This is an easy way to gain some insight about the attendees and get noticed. This will also become very beneficial if you become a regular.
- Quality over quantity
Instead of only exchanging business cards, focus on building a rapport and have quality conversations.
- Be mindful of your body language
Maintain eye contact, uncross your arms, and keep a welcoming posture.
- Stay positive
Do not use the networking event to vent about your situation. Hold a pleasant conversation; nobody wants to talk to a negative person.
- Don’t be selfish
Don’t interrupt conversations and don’t force your business card on anyone. Let the other person introduce himself or herself first and consider their goals before you start talking.
- Join the conversation
This is very different from interrupting just to hand out your business card. Don’t be nervous about joining a group, just do it very politely.
- Be interested and engaged
Ask 3 to 5 open-ended questions and let the other person open up to you. Listen to what they say before you respond.
- Remember and follow up
As you probably won’t be able to remember every little thing about each conversation, take notes directly on the business cards after they are exchanged to jog your memory for your follow-ups. I suggest following up within 24-48 business hours to show gratitude for their connection.
- Voice your desires
Nobody can help you if you don’t tell them what you want. Consider what’s it in for them and address that in your presentation. I suggest replacing every “I, me, us, and we” with “you or your”; it will make a significant change in impact of your presentation.
- Share your contacts
If you can introduce the person you are speaking with to someone else at the event, you would be offering something upfront to the relationship. Alternatively, you can put them in touch with a meaningful contact after the event. You can’t expect other people to share their network if you are not willing to do it first.
Have questions on how best to network? Comment below! You can also reach out to one of our expert recruiters. Find the closest CFS office to you here.