How to make sure you get the most out of Networking Events
13th April 2018
Networking is a great way to gain some valuable contacts and information. So why is the prospect of attending one of these events so nerve-wracking? The idea of walking in to a room full of strangers can make even the biggest extroverts feel uncomfortable. However, it simply all comes down to the 3P’s – being prepared, professional and proactive. The combination of all 3 of these aspects will allow you to get the most out of the experience. But what can you do to ensure you gain all the connections and information you came for?
Bring Business Cards
Now I know that this seems straight forward but there is so much more than just showing up and handing out business cards. You don’t want to spam all of the attendees as that detracts from the point of handing them out in the first place. You want to be making meaningful connections. If you hand your card out to too many people you won’t be taken seriously. Try to make each connection authentic by making them feel special and valued.
Every heard of ‘Listen first, Speak later’? This quote is invaluable to remember at these events. The other person will feel respected if you take the time to listen to what they say before getting onto your own agenda. This will also lead to more genuine and effective conversations.
Following on from this, a great way to show your interest is to ask questions. Get a few good questions ready before you go so you have a conversation starter. Asking the other person about their background and the work they are currently doing shows you’re interested in more than just your own job opportunities. Try to ask questions that can’t be answered by a simple yes or no. They may be just as nervous so starting conversations that get them talking helps to get other people out of their comfort zone.
Introduce yourself to the Organiser
A great networking tip is to introduce yourself to the organiser of the event. They can tell you more about the organisation and are more than likely to know a couple of relevant people in the room that they can introduce you too. It’s also great for future events they might run as it will allow you start a rapport.
Don’t forget to follow up with anyone who you connected with. Send follow up emails to people you gave your business card too and/or received to carry on networking. Make sure when writing each email to personalise it specifically to the person you’re sending it too. There is nothing worse than receiving an email that has clearly been copied and pasted for convenience. Making the person feel special means you are more likely to continue the connection.
Networking is one of the greatest tools you can use in your job. So prepare what questions you want to ask and know what you want to get out of the experience. Be professional, listen to what others have to say and give your details to relevant parties. Finally be proactive, send follow up emails a few days later to stay in touch. Follow these simple steps and your next networking event shouldn’t be quite so scary. Who knows you may even enjoy yourself!