1. Do your research
Before attending an event, research the organization hosting the event, and read up on industry news. This will help you be better prepared with talking points when you meet someone new. It will also help you connect with people who share your interests.
2. Have a plan
Attending an event without a plan is like going to the grocery store without a list. You’ll likely end up wasting time and may not get what you need. Have a plan for who you want to meet and what you want to accomplish.
Come up with a goal for the event, whether it’s to meet a certain number of people or to learn more about a particular topic. This will help you make the most of limited time and ensure that your conversations are focused and productive.
3. Arrive early
If you want to make the most of an event, arrive early. This way, you’ll have time to network with people before the main event starts. Plus, you’ll avoid the rush of people trying to make their way in at the last minute.
If the event features a presentation or panel discussion, arriving early will also give you the chance to talk to as many people as possible before it gets too crowded and snag a good seat.
4. Be prepared
When you’re networking, you’ll inevitably be asked questions about yourself. Have a few key points ready that you can use to give people an idea of who you are and what you do. Keep it short and memorable so that you can quickly and effectively introduce yourself to new contacts.
Also, make sure you have physical business cards on hand so you can exchange information with ease. While virtual cards and scans are impressive, there’s no guarantee your new connections will have a device on hand to accept them— something that has never been said for the classic business card.
5. Talk to everyone
It can be intimidating to talk to new people, but it’s important to make the most of networking events. Even if you’re shy, make the effort to put yourself out there and talk to as many people as possible. You never know who you might meet or what connections you might make.
You may want to bring a notepad so you can take down names and contact information. It’s also a helpful tool for jotting down notes about the conversations you have. This way, you can follow up with people later and keep the conversation going.
6. Ask questions
Make sure to ask your new contacts questions about themselves and their businesses. When someone tells you about their work, ask them questions about their job and what they enjoy most about it. Asking questions is a great way to learn more about someone and make a connection with them. This will show that you’re interested in getting to know them and that you value their input.
7. Follow up with contacts
After meeting someone new, make sure to follow up with them via email or social media. This will help keep the lines of communication open and solidify the connection you made. After attending an event, follow up with the contacts you made at the event. Send them an email or give them a call to thank them for talking with you and ask if they’d be interested in getting coffee or lunch sometime. If you see an interesting article that relates to your conversation or shared industry, shoot them a quick email or LinkedIn message with the link.
You can also demonstrate value by introducing new contacts to each other. If you have a colleague or acquaintance who might be interested in meeting someone you just met, make an introduction via email. This will show your new contact that you’re interested in helping them expand their network and that you’re happy to make introductions.
8. Look for unique opportunities
Networking events are a great chance to expand your reach and connect with people you may not have otherwise had the chance to meet– don’t be afraid to approach them and start a conversation. If you see someone who looks interesting, go up and talk to them. You never know what kind of opportunity might present itself, and they will likely welcome the opportunity to discuss their area of expertise.
9. Keep networking
Networking doesn’t stop when the event ends. Follow up with the people you met at the event, keep in touch with your contacts, make new introductions, and attend industry events on a regular basis.
Events are a great opportunity to learn more about potential career paths and meet people in your industry. But don’t stop there! Look for unique opportunities while you’re at the event, such as speaking on a panel or leading a workshop.
Networking is an essential part of any career journey. The more connections you make, the more opportunities will come your way. By following these tips, you’ll be sure to make the most of your next networking event!
Ready to take your new networking skills for a spin? Check out our upcoming events to get started!