If you have a business or a professional goal you are trying to meet, more than likely you will end up at a networking event at some point. Networking is an important tool to utilize, and can help you achieve your goals and expand out your circle. It’s not out of the question to feel like you should make the most of your time during a networking event; you want to build relationships that can lead to opportunities. However, it is also equally important to be relaxed and to have fun at these networking events, but that can be difficult to achieve if you feel overwhelmed and under prepared.
Don’t let anxiety or fear take control by holding you back professionally. Make the most of your next networking opportunity by being prepared for your next networking event, and you can do this by checking out our essential networking event tips!
1. Be prepared – Before you go, be prepared and have a plan. Do this by figuring out what you hope to get out of the event. Knowing what you want to accomplish ahead of time will help you stay focused on your objective and will help prevent you from aimlessly wandering around. You will want to have an idea of what your introduction or ‘pitch’ will be so you don’t freeze or stumble when you are put on the spot.
2. Be approachable – It is important to look presentable and approachable. Make sure your physical appearance is kept neat and clean, and you are dressed to impress. You also don’t want to look disorganized or disheveled. It is also important to smile and be pleasant; remember you catch more bees with honey!
3. Have your LinkedIn profile set up and/or updated – If you don’t have a profile on the networking site LinkedIn, make sure you set one up and have it updated before you attend a networking event. It is important to have everything up to date, be typo-free (use spell check and have a friend proofread it for you), and be sure to discuss your accomplishments in more detail than you have on your resume.
4. Have your resume on deck – Your resume is still important to have ready and available; even though your credentials are listed on LinkedIn, some people may still want to see your resume as well. Your resume should be one page, and is easy to read and follow. You don’t want to bring along a stack of resumes with you, just have it available to email if the need comes up.
5. Bring business cards – Anytime you are attending a networking event be sure to bring a stack of business cards with you. Make sure your calling card is simple, yet attractive, and it lists all your essential information. Also, remember that appearance does matter, so keep your business cards well protected by investing in a card case. You don’t want to hand out wrinkled or bent business cards!
6. Don’t be a spammer – While you are supposed to hand out business cards at a networking event, don’t just hand them out to everyone you talk to. Build a rapport with a person first before you hand them out; who knows, they might just ask you for one first!
7. Take notes – More than likely you will not remember all of the details from your conversations with people, so don’t just take mental notes, take personal notes as well. It is easy to get overwhelmed and forget important details. If they gave you a business card, jot down some notes on the back of the card, or use your phone to take notes on.
8. Follow up – Make sure you follow up a few days after the event by sending an email to anyone you would like to continue networking with. Let them know that you enjoyed meeting them, and suggest a follow-up meeting. Be sure to use the notes you took so each email can be personalized; using your notes will make it easier to include something that you spoke about at the networking event.