Networking is one of those experiences that takes most of us well outside our comfort zone. If you find it easy, that’s great, but the majority of people find networking uncomfortable and awkward especially at large scale networking events.
The best way to successfully meet and connect with people at any networking event is to do some preparation work at home.
We have broken this preparation work down into 5 key steps.
1. Choose The best Networking Events
Whether you are job hunting or just looking to expand your professional network, chances are you don’t have a lot of spare time. Networking takes time so make sure you choose the best events to attend not just every possible networking event. Make a list of all the possible networking events you could attend and then evaluate them based on the following criteria:
- Prioritize the networking events focused on your job industry
- Access a guest/ speaker list for each event and decide who are the most important people for you to connect with
- Find out who is running/hosting each event and research their past events via social media
- Make a short list of the best networking events for you and decide how much spare time you have
2. Do Your Homework
It is not possible to successfully network if you have not researched the people you want to connect with. You need to go into each networking event with a plan of who you would like to connect with and a short list of things you can say to open the conversation with each person. To do this you need to:
- Revisit the speaker/special guest list and narrow down to 2-3 speakers you would really like to meet
- Find out if there is a guest list available and select 4-5 people you would like to add to your network
- Research your short list of people and determine if you have anything in common, questions you could ask them, people you may both know. Google their name, search for them on LinkedIn, read industry articles about them etc..
3. Prepare Your 30 Second Pitch
One of the toughest tasks at any networking event is figuring out what to say after the basic introduction. Hi,my name is ….. nice to meet you. Now what? Once the very basic pleasantries are done, a well worded sales pitch is a great way to break the ice and say all the things you need to say succinctly. The sales pitch is basically a 30 second television commercial where you are the product being sold.
It’s not as easy as yo may think to get all the important details about you into a 30 second pitch. Have a look at the post below, it takes you though the process in 4 easy to follow steps. There is even a basic dialogue template you can use, just insert your details.
4. Put Together Your Outfit
Although his one is probably not as critical as the other preparation steps above, it is still something you need to consider before the networking event you plan to attend. You want to appear professional, yet stand out in a good way. Check out the following quick tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes you can walk around in for a few hours without a problem
- Make sure any piercings or tattoos are discreet or hidden from obvious view
- For women, check the length of your skirt/dress when you sit down and make sure your bra strap does not show
- Consider the temperature inside and outside. it may be quite warm inside even in the middle of winter
5. Prepare your Props
You actually don’t need a lot of props when attending a networking event but there are a few things you should always have handy. Make sure you have:
- A pen and paper
- A list of people you want to connect with and a question for each to remind you
- Business cards to hand out to people as needed