Attending events, mixers, discussion panels, launch parties, and other meet-up type groups can be a fun, easy way to expand your personal and professional networks. Although it can be intimidating to put yourself out there, meeting new people is invaluable. You never know how you’ll be able to maximize your network now or in the future. Here are a few tips to help you make the most out of your time a networking event.
Before you leave:
- Research the speaker, event location and/or organization. The more you know about the event itself the more confident you’ll feel engaging in conversations with new people while you’re there.
- Take ten minutes to relax before you leave and don’t rush. Arriving with a clear head and calm composure will make you seem more approachable.
- Prepare a brief explanation of what you do and/or why you’re there because you will be asked!
While You’re at the Event:
- Remember: everyone is there to network so don’t be afraid to introduce yourself.
- A simple introduction such as “hi my name is…” and a handshake can be a great icebreaker. If there’s an awkward silence after they introduce themselves, ask why they are there or what they do.
- Do not give an extensive sales pitch. Keep the conversation balanced by asking questions in return.
- Just because you might be there for work does not mean you have to talk about work.
- Don’t be offended if your conversation is interrupted. It’s going to happen as people introduce themselves. Just go with the flow and be nice. Chances are the interrupter had to work up a lot of courage to enter the conversation.
- If you would like to stay in touch with someone, ask for their card so you can take the lead on the follow up.
- Enjoy it!
After the Event
- If you had a nice conversation with someone and want to stay in touch, make sure to follow up the next day. A quick it-was-nice-to-meet-you email or linked in request shows that you are serious about keeping in touch.
- From there you should be thinking about how you can help them. Think about who you could introduce them to (always run it by them first before you make the intro!) and what other events you could invite them to.
Hopefully these tips will help you in your networking efforts and advance your career. If your networking leads to a job interview, check out these interview tips. If you have your own networking tips, please share in the comments section below.