Taking an active approach to meeting people can turn any event into a productive networking opportunity. For many people, any networking event can trigger nerves or feelings of discomfort – until you learn to work your strengths. Here are 3 key tips that will empower you to work the room like a pro at any networking event.
Research the event and the participants
So, you have found a networking event that you want to register for, but you don’t know how to prepare. Research may be hard depending on the event, but a lot of networking events – career fairs especially – should have a list of the companies attending the event. Make sure you check them out and see who you want to meet. If you are really interested in a certain company, do your research on their HR Managers, the company’s history, and be ready to start a good conversation.
Focus on learning
If you are antsy about what to say next or concerned about what the other person thinks of you, conversations will suffer. Instead, try to stay solely focused on what you can learn. If you want to make a good first impression, be friendly, humble, and a good listener. If it’s a potentially a critical connection, let them drive the conversation, but look for opportunities to talk a little bit about yourself and your goals. You’ll find networking easier if you approach it as an opportunity to learn new things about other people instead of seeing it as a litmus test of your interpersonal skills.
Always follow up
The event is over, and it’s the next day or two. For those good and meaningful conversations, you had at the event, use those to introduce yourself when connecting on social media or through email. LinkedIn is your best friend, so make sure when you send a message that you have something interesting to put on the invitation. When you connect with people on LinkedIn and they don’t know you and you don’t introduce yourself, then you will have far less chance of acceptance and impact on the person than if you write a personalized message.
Believe it or not, networking is a skill. And like any skill, it may feel a little awkward at first. You’re probably going to make mistakes, and that’s okay. So, don’t sell yourself short or cheat yourself out of valuable learning, growth, and relationship opportunities. Show up and engage enough – one of the relationships you begin at a networking event may even lead to a breakthrough opportunity in your life or career.
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