How to Rock Your Next Networking Event
If you’re going to attend a networking event, make it worth your time. Simply showing up and passing out as many business cards as humanly possible is not going to benefit your career in any way. Your networking goal should be to provide value to each interaction – and that means being purposeful and strategic about both the type of networking gatherings you chose to attend as well as the conversations you have while you’re there.
If you’re looking for ways to step up your networking game, take a look at these 6 tips that will help you make the most of your next networking event:
- Have a plan
Before you arrive at the function, take some time to do a little recon work. Do a quick Google search to research some of the key players or presenters who will be attending. Taking the time to do some background research will pay off when you impress someone with your familiarity on his or her recent accomplishment or other important facts.
- Don’t arrive hungry
Though some networking events have pupus or full menu items available, showing up with food on your mind will only distract you from your goal. Furthermore, be careful of getting stuck with a mouthful of food or greasy fingers when someone introduces themselves.
- Be prepared to jump into group conversations
When you arrive, you’ll likely have the inevitable moment where you’ll need to either insert yourself into a conversation or risk standing awkwardly by yourself. Avoid breaking into a conversation with only two people as it may come off as rude. Instead, look for a group of three or more, introduce yourself and ask, “May I join you?”
- Ask questions and be the perfect listener
Your conversations should revolve around the person or people you’re talking with, not the other way around. Be prepared to listen 60% of the time and be asking questions and engaging with the person the other 40%. Be alert when the other person is talking, don’t zone out or be looking for the next person you want to talk to. Remember, quality interactions are much more beneficial than an evening of many quick and unmemorable conversations.
- Don’t give out your business card unless someone asks for it
Don’t get in the habit of handing out business cards to anyone and everyone you meet. You should focus on building enough rapport with someone to encourage them to ask for your card. Spamming people with your unsolicited business card is the same as just throwing it away. In fact, rather than hand over your business card, consider asking the person if you can text them your info. It’s a great way to avoid your card (or theirs) getting lost or forgotten.
- End conversations and leave gracefully
When a conversation is winding down and you’re either running out of things to say or want to talk to another person, make sure you leave things on good terms by ending your conversation the way you started it—with a handshake and a smile. Avoid simply walking off during a lag in conversation or if someone else steps in to join you. Furthermore, when you’re ready to leave the event, be sure to thank the host as well as say goodbye to any key individuals.