I’m not particularly fond of networking events, mainly because I always feel the events are more of social gatherings than actual networking. Therefore, I’ve compiled seven things you should be doing or take away from a networking event.
Have your business cards (social handles) handy
In the digital age, physical business cards may not be essential but you should have some online presence that serves as a portfolio to reference what you’ve done.
Leave your friends at home
If they must come with you, your friends should be there for moral support or to network themselves, not to hold your hand every step of the way. I often find that when friends attend networking events together, they talk way too much to each other instead of more time spent meeting new people. They bring a level of comfort, but the point is to be outside of your comfort zone and actually network.
Make the first move
You’re there to network not stand up against the wall. Make the first move and initiate a conversation. Again, this is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Start the initial conversation with your name, what you do and why you decided to attend this particular event as oppose to another. This opening will encourage your potential business prospect, employer, client or employee to engage with you.
The idea here is to make genuine connections with people you may do business with or foster professional relationships with. This isn’t an opportunity to meet as many people as possible just for the sake of meeting people. Get to know, at least, one person in the room, their background and interests. That one connection could connect you to the RIGHT people. And don’t pretend to be something or someone that you’re not.
Don’t be self-centered
This tip goes hand-in-hand with being genuine. It’s important to understand that it’s not just about you. Think about this from the other party’s perspective. What could you also bring to the table? It’s not solely on what you can gain.
It’s not just about selling yourself to the highest bidder, but being able to execute on those promises. Again, foster an on-going professional relationship of some sort.