There is a reason why “networking” appears on every list of job search tips; because it is extremely important - but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. Networking is a skill, and as such it does require a little preparation and practice. Net Impact is here to help!
We have comprised this list of tips to help you navigate your next networking event.
A professional networking event can be very intimidating, especially if you know you will be facing a room full of strangers, but a little preparation ahead of time will help you feel more comfortable and get the most out of your experience. Think about what you want to accomplish and learn at the event. If being put on the spot makes you nervous, plan out a few questions to ask and think about what you will feel comfortable sharing about yourself, that way you won't have to rely on others to carry a conversation.
2. Make an effective introduction
First impressions do make a difference so even though it seems obvious, dress to impress, smile, and maintain eye contact. To act professional, state your first and last name and give a firm, brief handshake. Listen out for the other person’s name (it’s easy to miss) and then use it twice while you’re speaking to help you remember.
3. Be present
Once you do start a conversation try to relax, look warm, and show interest in what they other person is saying. That way you will seem sincere to the person you are speaking with and you will be approachable for others to join in or start a new conversation with you. Ask questions that show you are interested in more than just your own job opportunities and ones that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” to keep the conversation moving forward. Beware- while sharing your story is encouraged, don’t talk about yourself the whole time!
4. Bring business cards
But you don’t have a job? It doesn’t matter, still bring business cards. It shows you are prepared, professional, and it gives potential connections, employers, coworkers, or friends all your contact details. Also take business cards from people you would like to continue networking with so you can send them a follow up email a few days after the event- always keep those lines of communication open.
5. Challenge yourself
This is probably the hardest on the list, but it will be worth it when you accomplish the goals you set. Give yourself a challenge that will push you out of your comfort zone; maybe you meet with someone you don’t know every week or attend one networking event each month. It may seem difficult at first, but it will get easier as your network continues to grow.
Are you ready to put your new networking skills to the test? Net Impact holds national and local events to help you build connections and make a lasting impact on the world.
Our next big event? The 2016 Net Impact Conference where you can network with like-minded people, recruiters, and impact leaders.